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Education and 





G. F. STOUT, M.A., 










L Nervous Suggestion and its Effects, 
n. Psychological Suggestion, Moral and Social. 

III. Suggestion as a Means of Moral Education, and 
as an Influence modifying Heredity. 


The Genesis of the Moral Instinct. 

R6le of Heredity, Ideas, and Education 

y. The Power of Habits, giving rise to a Moment- 
^ ary Impulse or to a Permanent Obsession. 

IL The Power ofthe Consciousness and Idea-Forces, 
the Moral Agent. 

III. Power begetting Duty. 

IV. Possible Dissolution of Morality. 

V. The R61e of Education and Heredity in the 
Moral Sense, 






Physical Education and Heredity. The 
Boarding-School. Overpressure . 

I. The Absolute Necessity of Physical Education 
in the Education of the Race. 

11. The Boarding-School Question. 

III. The Question of Overpressure. 

IV. Manual Work in Schools. 

V. The Physical Progress of the Race, and the 
Growth of Population. 


The Object and Method of Intellectual 

I. The Object and Method of Intellectual Educa- 

II. Methods of Teaching. 


The School 

I. The Inadequacy and Dangers of purely Intel- 
lectual Education. 

11. Possibility of Teaching Ethics Methodically. 

III. Moral Discipline in the Primary School. 

IV. Necessity for the Teaching of Civic Duties in 

all stages of Instruction. 

V. Instruction in ./Esthetics. 

VI. Intellectual Education. 







Secondary and Higher Education 

I. Object of a Classical Education. 

11. History. 

III. Science, 

IV. Technical Instruction. 

V* Competition an 1 Examinations. 

VI. Higher Education. 

Vn, The Great Schools. 


The Euuc.vrioN of Girls and Heredity 


Education ani> “Rotation of Crops” in 
Intellectual Culture . . . . 


The Aim of Evolution and Education. Is 
rr Consciousness, or the Automatism op 

ilEUKDITY? ...... 












In this posthumous work I have taken the liberty of 
inserting many marks of quotation, which no doubt 
would have been added upon revision if the untimely 
death of the lamented author had not intervened. I 
must express my obligations to all who have assisted 
me while engaged upon this translation. I am glad 
of this opportunity of expressing my indebtedness 
to M. Alfred Fouill^e for his extreme courtesy to a 
complete stranger, and for the trouble he has taken 
to explain such difhculties as I have from time to 
time referred to him for solution. In particular, I 
have to acknowledge the advice and unfailing sym- 
pathy received from my friend Mr. G. F. Stout, 
whose ungrudging assistance has been invaluable. 

Cardiff, June 1891, 

W. J. G. 


Jean-Marie Guyau, philosopher and poet, was born 
on the 28th of October 1854, and died at the age of 
thirty-three. His early training was mainly due to 
his mother, who is known in France as the author of 
various works on education, and to his step-father, 
M. Fouillde, one of the most remarkable of living 
French philosophefs. At the age of nineteen, M. 
Guyau wrote a volume on the Utilitarian moralists 
from Epicurus to Bentham arid his school. Portions 
of this work, which was crowned” by the Acadimie 
d[es sciences morales et politiques, were afterwards 
exparid.ed into two treatises. The first of these was on 
the Philosophy of Epicurus; it received a full and ap- 
preciative notice in the English Journal of Philology; 
the second treatise was an exposition and criticism 
of contemporary English Ethics. At the age of 
twenty his health broke down, and he was practically 
compelled to reside for the rest of his life on the 
shores of the Mediterranean. During the few years 
that remained to him he showed himself marvellously 
prolific, producing a series of works on the leading 
problems of philosophy, marked by striking origin- 
ality and power. In addition, he also published a 
volume of poems, entitled Vers dun philosopher ex- 
hibiting a unique vein of genius. They represent in 
the clearest and simplest language the emotional 
aspect of philosophy; in the fullest sense they justify 



their title, they are the verses of a fihilosophcr who 
was in his inmost nature a genuine poet From the 
bibliography appended to this Introduction the reader 
will see that M, Guyau gave to the world three 
sociological studies on Art, Religion, and Education 
respectively. The last of these is here presented in 
an English dress. Perhaps a few preparatory words 
on its distinctive aim and value may be acceptable 
to the general reader* 

The main value of M. Guyau^s work on Education 
and Heredity is to be found in the point of view from 
which it is written. The ultimate good of society is 
ever present to his mind as the one standard by which 
to estimate and regulate all educational aims and 
methods. At the same time he holds that the good 
of the individual is only to be found in social activity. 
The development of the life of each of us is 
measured by the range and intensity of our human 
interests. Thus, though Guyau is essentially prac- 
tical, he is not utilitarian in the bad sense of the word. 
He does not set up as the ultimate aim of education 
the acquirement of useful knowledge, or the training 
of the intellect, or the passing of examinations. 
These ends are to be pursued only in so far as they 
conduce to the ‘‘conservation of social tissue,** and 
to the progress of the race. 

In accordance with his general principle, Guyau 
gives the first place in order of value, and in order of 
treatment, to moral education. Like Plato, he draws 
a distinct line of demarcation between the morality 
of impulse and the morality of insight The morality 
of impulse takes the form of inward imperatives 
which impose themselves on the mind of the agent 
without his knowing whence they come, or why they 



po.ssess authority. These inward imperatives are in 
part instincts transmitted by heredity. But according 
to Guyau it is also possible to create them by educa- 
tion. In order to elucidate this point he lays stress 
on the analogy between the operation of natural 
instinct and that of suggestions made to hypnotised 
subjects, which are afterwards spontaneously carried 
into action. In such cases tlie person who performs 
the suggested action commonly feels himself under 
a kind of necessity or obligation to act as he does, 
but he cannot trace back this necessity or obligation 
to its true source. The artificially created impulse 
governs him as if it were an innate instinct. Now, 
just as hypnotic patients are suggestible because their 
mental organisation is disordered, so young children 
are suggestible because their mental organisation is 
as yet imperfect What the experimenter is able to 
do in the one case, the educator ought to be able to 
do in the other. 

But the morality which is based on a blind sense of 
obligation is only a preparation for the morality which 
is based on insight. Guyau’s views on the subject 
of direct moral instruction are coloured by his 
peculiar ethical theories. He seems to start with 
the assumption, which is perhaps not altogether justi- 
fiable, that every healthy child has a natural dis- 
position to be active for the sake of being active 
So soon as he is made aware of his powers and 
capabilities he will straightway endeavour to realise powers and capabilities. For the same reason 
he will prefer the higher modes of self-realisation to 
the lower, so soon as ho becomes alive to the distinc- 
tion between them. Thus a child in good physical 
health and with moral instincts need only be shown 



how he can live the most complete life. When once 
he feels that he can, he will at the same time feel that 
he ought Ideas tend by their very nature to act them- 
selves out The more pervasive and persistent the 
ideas the more potent and enduring is this tendenej’. 

Now the representation of an ideal self may be 
made the most pervasive and persistent of idea.s. ami 
may thus become the dominant principle of conduct 
To effect this is the aim of ethical education. It is of 
course essential that the child should be brought to 
see and feel his true relation to the society of which 
he forms a part He must be led to understand that 
his own self-realisation is possible only if and so far 
as he widens and deepens his social interests and 

Physical education is, in Guyau’s opinion, second 
in importance only to moral education. For on it 
depends the general health and vigour of the race 
—the general store of energy necessary to moral and 
intellectual activity. To train the intellect at the 
expense of bodily health is to kill the goose that lays 
the- golden eggs. This becomes apparent when we 
consider the question from the point of view of the 
race. An individual may be supposed to gain an 
equivalent in the way of worldly success and so 
forth for the physical exhaustion produced by over- 
pressure. But the general result to the race can only 
be decay. 

Guyau's consistently sociological point of view 
makes his treatment of intellectual education very 
interesting and suggestive. He is led by it to 
emphasise the claims of aesthetic and literary culture. 
For him the word useful means useful to the com- 
munity and to the race as a whole. Whatever then 



makes men niore human by giving them a wider and 
fuller sympathy with their fellow-men is useful par 
excellence. Now Guyau holds that it is the function of 
art and literature to bind society together. They supply 
common sources of enjoyment disconnected from the 
private aims and interests of the individual. They give 
definite form and vivid colouring to ideals in an ob- 
jective embodiment which is common property, and in 
this way they tend to excite a common impulse towards 
the realisation of ideal ends. Lastly, in so far as they 
reflect human life and emotion, they tend to widen 
the mental horizon of the individual by giving him 
enlarged sympathy and insight. With these ideas of 
the nature and scope of art it is not surprising that 
Guyau should regard aesthetic education as more 
important than scientific. Botany and chemistry are 
good in their way ; but poetry is indispensable. 

The reader may perhaps be somewhat perplexed 
by the title of the book. He may be led to expect a 
discussion of the relative parts played by nature and 
nurture in forming the character of the individual. 
Now the only passage in which this subject is directly 
discussed is contained in the last section of Chapter II. 
The book as a whole seems to be concerned merely 
with Education apart from Heredity. Nevertheless, 
the title, Education and Heredity, is quite appropriate. 
It indicates the general standpoint of the author. 
Guyau never for a moment loses sight of the fact that 
every child is a possible parent, and that on the edu- 
cation of the child depends the future of the race. 
The physical, intellectual, and moral health of each 
generation must be so cared for as to ensure the 
physical, intellectual, and moral health of posterity. 

G. F. S. 


La Morale d^fepicure et ses rapports avec les doctrines contem- 

La morale anglaise contemporaine. 

Les Probl^mes de Pesth^tique contemporaine. 

Esquisse d’une morale sans obligation ni sanction. 

LTrrdHgion de Favenir, dtude de sociologie. 

Vers d’un philosophe. 

L’Art au point de vue sociologique. 

La Genfese de I’id^e de temps. 

Le manuel d’Epict^te, traduction en Frangais. 

Ciceron : De Finibus, Edition classique. 

Pascal : Entretien avec M. de Sacy, Edition classique. 

La Premiere ann^e de lecture courante, livre de morale pour les 
dcoles primaires. 

Uann^e preparatoire. 

Uannde enfantine. 


It is in paternity alone that man first “sounds the 
depths of his heart ” — in complete, conscious paternity, 
tliat is to say, in the education of his child. Ah ! the 
patter of the little feet ! the light and gentle patter- 
ing of the feet of the generations, that come as doubt- 
ful and uncertain as the future. And perhaps that 
future will be determined by the way in which we 
bring up the new generations. 

Flaubert says that life ought to be an incessant 
education, that “ from speaking to dying ” everything 
has to be learned. Left to chance, this long education 
is every moment deviating. Even parents, in most 
cases, have not the slightest idea of the aim of 
education, especially when the children are still very 
young. What is the moral idea set before most 
children in a family? Not to be too noisy, not to 
put the fingers in the nose or mouth, not to use the 
hands at table, not to step into puddles when it rains, 
etc.^ A reasonable being! In the eyes of many 
parents the reasonable child is a marionette, which 
is not to stir unless the strings are pulled ; he is 
supposed to have hands which are meant to touch 
nothing, eyes which are never to sparkle with desire 
for what he sees, little feet which must never trot 
noisily on the floor, and a silent tongue. 

^ From a higher point of view, is the ideal of most men more 
elevated of its kind ? 



Many parents bring up their children, not for the 
children’s sake, but for their own. I have known 
parents who did not wish their daughter to marry, 
because it would involve separation from her ; others 
who did not want their son to take up this or that 
profession (that of a veterinary surgeon, for instance), 
because it was displeasing to them, etc. The same 
rules dominated their whole course of conduct towards 
their children. That is egoistic education. There is 
another kind of education which has as its object, 
not the pleasure of the parents, but the pleasure of 
the child as estimated by the parents. Thus a 
peasant, whose whole life has been spent in the open 
air, will consider it his duty to spare his son the 
labour of tilling the soil ; he will bring him up to 
make him a government clerk, a poor official stifled 
in his office, who, cooped up in a town, will sooner or 
later die of consumption. True education is disinter- 
ested : it brings up the child for its own sake ; it also 
and especially brings it up for its country and for the 
human race as a whole. In the various works I have 
published I have had a single end in view : the linking 
together of ethics, .esthetics, and religion, with the idea 
of life — life in its most intensive, extensive, and there- 
fore most fruitful form ; it is this idea therefore which 
will supply us in this volume with the object of 
education, the fundamental formula of pedagogy. 
Pedagogy might be defined as the art of adapting 
new generations to those conditions of life which are 
the most intensive and fruitful for the individual and 
the species. It has been asked if the object of 
education is individual or social ; it is simultaneously 
individual and social : it is, to speak accurately, 
the search for means to bring the most intensive 



individual existence into harmony with the most 
extensive social life. Besides, in my opinion, there 
is a profound harmony underlying the antinomies 
between individual existence and collective existence; 
whatever is really conformable to the siwwium bonmn 
of individual life (moral and physical) is ipso facto 
useful to the whole race. Education ought, there- 
fore, to have a triple end in view: — ist The har- 
monious development in the human individual of all 
the capacities proper to the human race and useful 
to it, according to their relative importance. 2nd. 
The more particular development in the individual of 
those capacities which seem peculiar to him, in so far 
as they can7iot disturb the ge^zcral equilibrium of the 
orgafiism, 3rd. To arrest and check those tendencies 
and instincts which may disturb that equilibrium — in 
other words, to aid heredity in proportion as it tends 
to create permanent superiority within the race, and 
to resist its influence when it tends to accumulate 
causes pernicious to the race itself. Thus education 
becomes the pursuit of the means of bringing up 
the largest number of individuals in perfect health, 
endowed with physical or moral faculties as well 
developed as possible, and thereby capable of contri- 
buting to the progress of the human race. 

It follows that the whole system of education 
should be orientated with reference to the mainten- 
ance and progress of the race. In time past the 
creeds of a race acted by means of education, and 
preserved either the elect of a people or the nation as 
a whole. In this direction, therefore, education must 
act to-day. In my opinion education has been far 
too much looked upon as the art of bringing up the 
individual — apart from the family and the race. 



From the individual we try to get the best yield ; but 
it is as if a farmer were to endeavour for a few years 
to get the largest possible crops from a field without 
restoring to the land what he has taken from it : the 
field would eventually be exhausted. This is the case 
with exhausted races ; but with this difference, that land 
lasts for ever, and in the long run regains its original 
fertility by rest and lying fallow, while the exhausted 
race may grow weaker and disappear for ever. 
Recent studies in heredity (Jacoby, De Candolle, 
Ribot), statistics of the professions, etc., have shown 
in a very striking manner that certain environments, 
certain professions or social conditions, are fatal to 
the race in general. People talk of the devouring 
existence ” of our great towns, without realising that 
they are not using a mere figure of speech, but are 
speaking the sober truth. Towns are the whirlpools 
of the human race, said Jean Jacques. As much may 
be said, not only of great towns, but of most places 
where there is a fashionable world, where there are 
salons, theatres, and political assemblies ; all excess of 
nervous excitement in the individual will, by the 
law of organic equilibrium, introduce into the race 
either mental weakness or diseases of the nervous 
system, or some form of physiological derangement 
which will issue in sterility. According to the 
statisticians, there are " devouring ” provinces and 
towns, districts peopled only at the expense of the 
neighbourhood which is thus more or less exhausted ; 
similarly, there are ‘‘ devouring ” professions ; and 
they are often the most useful to the progress of the 
community, and at the same time the most tempting 
to the individual. In fact, some have gone so far as 
to assert that every intellectual superiority in the 



struggle for existence is a sentence of death for the 
race, that progress is literally made by the sacrifice of 
the very individuals or races who have worked the 
hardest in the direction of progress, that the best 
condition for the permanence of the race is life as 
little intellectual as possible, and that all education 
which over-excites a child’s faculties, which tries to 
make the child a rare and exceptional being, is ipso 
facto endeavouring to destroy both the individual and 
the race.^ 

I think this assertion is partly true for education as 
at present organised, but I shall show that education, 
when better understood and more far-sighted in its 
aims, might remedy this exhaustion of the race, just as 
in agriculture exhaustion of the soil is remedied by 
rotation of crops. 

It is only in modern times that science has been 
formed ; a crowd of subjects of knowledge have 
sprung up, which are not as yet adapted to the human 
mind. This adaptation can only be produced by a 
rational division and classification of the different 
subjects of study ; and the mind is exposed to suffer- 
ing and overpressure because this division is not yet 
effected. It follows that the science of education must 
be harmonised with new conditions. Education must 
be organised — that is to say, we must establish the 
suiordination of subjects of study and their hierarchy 
in the social unity.^ As Spencer justly remarks, the 
more perfect and therefore the more complex an 
organism is, the more difficulties beset its harmonious 

^ Vide Galton, Natural Inheritance^ Appendix F, p. 241. (Tr.) 

® Vide Dr. J. Ward, ‘^Educational Journal of Education^ 

November 1890. (Tr.) 



The education of each new-comer in the case of the 
lower races of animals is not of long duration ; and 
whatever is not actually taught it by others will be 
taught it by life, and that without great danger ; its 
instincts are simple, therefore but few experiences 
are necessary for its guidance. But the higher we 
rise in the scale of beings, the longer is- the evolution ; 
the necessity of a real education then begins to make 
itself felt ; the adults must help, support, and succour 
the young for a longer period, as, for instance, in 
the case of the higher mammiferous animals, the 
mother must carry the young and suckle it So 
even in animals we find the germ of a kind of primi- 
tive pedagogy: education is a prolongation of this 
suckling, and its necessity is derived from the laws of 

Here, however, a serious objection is presented, to 
which Spencer's own ideas have given rise. Must it 
be maintained, as has been done, that education is 
useless, or even powerless, because human evolution is 
necessary, and that evolution always depends on 
heredity? In the last century the importance of 
education was so far exaggerated that a man like 
Helvetius naively asked if all the difference between 
men does not spring from nothing but the difference of 
instruction they have received, and from their varied 
environment ; if talent and virtue alike cannot be 
taught We are now thrown upon distinctly opposite 
assertions by recent studies in heredity. Many 
philosophers and men of science now believe that 
education is radically powerless when it has to modify 
-to any great extent the racial temperament and 
character of the individual ; according to them a 
criminal as well as the poet nascitur non fit; the child's 


THE r6lE of heredity AND 



I. 71ie Effects of Nervous Su£-£testtm. — Suggestion {a) of sensa- 
tions and sentiments, {If) of ideas, {c) of volitions and actions— The 
possibility of creating by suggestion new instincts, and even instincts 
of 41 moral character — Suggested obligations — Artificial duties — The 
possibility of “moralising'* and demoralising the subject— Suggestion 
as a means of moral reformation. 

II. Psychological^ Moral, aud Social Suggestion, — Suggestion by 
example, by command, by authority, by assertions, by the use of 
words, by gestures, etc. — Suggested beliefs — Suggestion is the intro- 
duction into our being of a practical belief which realises itself 

III. Suggestion as a Means of Moral EduccUion, and as an Influence 
Modifying Heredity. — The true moral authority of the educator — 
Punishments — On inspiring self-confidence — Suggestions to be pro- 
duced, and suggestions to be avoided, 




I. Nervous Suggestion and its Effects. 

The well-known results of nervous suggestion affect 
the sensibility, the intellect, and the will ; sensations, 
sentiments, ideas, and volitions, may be suggested. 
“ A man,” says Shakespeare, 

“ . . . can hold a fire in his hand 
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus ; 

Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite 
By bare imagination of a feast; 

Or wallow naked in December snow 
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat.” ^ 

Suggestion realises Shakespeare’s words. If a hyp- 
notised subject is persuaded that he is in danger of 
perishing in the snow, he shivers with cold ; if he is 
told that the room is excessively warm, he imme- 
diately perspires with the heat. 

During the hypnotic sleep, or during catalepsy, M. 
F6r^ has suggested to patients the idea that on a 
dark table there was a portrait in profile ; when they 
awoke they distinctly saw the portrait in the same 
place ; and when a prism was placed before one eye, 
they were hugely surprised to see two profiles.^ The 
lateral compression of the eyeball of the hypnotised 
subject is enough to displace the optical axis and 
produce diplopia. This, as Dr. Hack Tuke points 
out,® is due to the possibility of a central sensation, 
objective in its origin, supplanting a sensation derived 
from a peripheral impression. The suggested sensa- 
tion is impressed upon that region of the cerebral 
cortex which is ordinarily impressed by the real 

^ Richard IL^ Act I., Sc. iii., 294-299. 

^ Moll, Hypnotism^ pp. 280, 281 (Walter Scott). (Tr.) 

® The Influence of the Mind upon the Body (1872), p 31. — Biuet and 
Anmai Magnetism (Kegan Paul), pp, 230, 231. (Tr.) 


sensation — a region which has become the seat of a 
kind of local hypnotism. An attendant at the Crystal 
Palace, whose duty it is to manipulate a galvanic 
battery, has often noticed that ladies who had hold 
of the handles experienced peculiar sensations, and 
that they quite believed that they were galvanised 
before the machine had begun to act.^ 

“In 1862,'’ says Mr. Woodhouse Braine, “I was 
called in to administer chloroform to a young, very 
nervous, and highly hysterical girl, from whom two 
tumours had to be removed. I sent out for the 
chloroform, and in the meantime, to accustom her 
to the mask, I placed it on the patient's face ; imme- 
diately she began to breathe irregularly. After half a 
minute she said : ‘ Oh ! I feel I am going off! ' The 
chloroform had not yet arrived. A gentle pinch 
produced no effect; I pinched her severely, and to 
my great surprise she felt nothing. This seemed a 
favourable opportunity, and I asked the surgeon to 
begin the operation. At its conclusion I asked the 
patient if she had felt anything. ‘No!' she said, ‘ I 
do not know what has happened.' When she left 
the hospital, she was still a firm believer in the power 
of the anaesthetic which had been given her." 

It is well known that stigmata are a phenomenon 
of auto-suggestion. The reader is familiar wiA the 
case of Louise Lateau, the Belgian stigmatic The 
periodicity of the stigmata is readily explained by 
the fact that an association was established between 
certain days of the week and the ideas determining 
the physical result^ 

^ Take, op. cit., p. 34. (Tr.) 

® Vide Carpenter’s Meniai Physiology^ p. 689, and Moll’s Hypnotism^ 
p. 117. (Tr.) 



Ideas of action, and volitions, may be suggested as 
in the case of sensations. Take a hypnotised subject: 
we can suggest to him this or that idea of action, as, 
for instance, a visit to some one at a certain day and 
hour, a mistake in the spelling of his own signature to 
a letter, the opening of a book and reading the first 
twenty words on page lOO, repeating a prayer, taking 
a handkerchief from the pocket of some one in the 
room and throwing it into the fire, etc. This idea of 
action, instilled during the hypnotic sleep, haunts the 
patient’s mind when he awakes, becomes a fixed idea, 
and in most cases pursues him until he has in some 
way or other worked it out Moreover, when he is 
working out this idea, he fancies he is acting quite 
spontaneously, and obeying a whim of his own; he 
attributes to himself another’s will implanted in him, 
and he often finds almost plausible reasons to justify 
the irrational acts he has been made to perform.^ 

In addition to the ideas and beliefs that may be 
thus suggested, in addition to volitions, sensations, 
and hallucinations, we may instil sentiments^ — admi- 
ration or contempt, sympathy or antipathy,— and 
passions and emotions, such as permanent fear. 
And all these suggestions, so certain sometimes in 
their action, may be given instantaneously ; within 
fifteen seconds we may by a sudden gesture stop a 
subject on his way between two doors, throw him 
into a state of cataleptic imniobility, produce som- 
nambulism, suggest actions to him, and then awaken 
him.® The subject will probably be unaware that he 
has been asleep, he will have only felt a slight and 

1 Moll, Hypnotism, pp. 154, i55._Binet and Fer^, AnUnal Mag- 

netism, pp. 290, 291. (Tr.) 

2 Moll, Hyp 7 %o!isvi, pp. 259, 260. (Tr.) 


transient tremor; but a new idea is from that moment 
implanted in him, an impulse which, if unimpeded, 
will very soon pass into action : fifteen seconds have 
sufficed to put the hand on the lever of the human 
machine. If this be so, can we not go further and 
create genuine instincts, and those of a moral kind? 
While habit or instinct is at first organic, to be 
afterwards reflected in the form of an idea in the 
domain of consciousness, suggestion shows us an idea 
penetrating from without into the brain of an indi- 
vidual, striking root, so to speak, and eventually trans- 
forming itself into a habit. The order is inverted, 
the practical result is the same. I believe I was the 
first to point out the close analogy between suggestion 
and instinct, as well as the possible application of 
normal and natural suggestion to education, and of 
artificial suggestion to therapeutics, as a corrective 
of abnormal instincts, or as a stimulant of normal 
instincts which are too weak. Every suggestion is in 
fact a nascent instinct^ created by the hypnotiser, just 
as the modern chemist produces organic substances 
by synthesis. And as every instinct is the germ of 
a sense of necessity, and sometimes even of obligation, 
it follows that every suggestion is an impulse which 
is beginning to impose itself on the mind — an element- 
ary purpose which is in the act of incorporating itself 
with the personality. This purpose, in most cases, 
believes itself free and autonomous, and before long 
would dominate the being with all the characters 
of the most energetic and conscious volition, if it 
were not resisted by other pre-established and active 

When a permanent artificial instinct is created 
in this way, it is probable that a mystical and 



quasi-religious sentiment would soon • attach itself to 
that instinct Suggestion under certain conditions is 
physical restraint; under more complex conditions we 
may almost enforce moral obligation^ On the whole, 
every moral or natural instinct, as Cuvier remarks, is 
derived from a kind of somnambulism, because it 
gives us a command, the reason of which is unknown 
to ourselves : we hear the " voice of conscience,” and 
localise this voice within us, although its origin is far 
more remote, and although it is a distant echo trans- 
mitted from generation to generation. Our instinctive 
conscience is a kind of hereditary suggestion. 

M. Delboeuf suggested to his servant M. the idea 
of embracing a guest, a young man, M. A. She 
went up to him, hesitated, retreated, blushed vividly, 
and hid her face in her hands. Next day she confided 
to Madame Delboeuf that she had felt an extraordinary 
longing to embrace M. A.; and further, this longing 
had not yet disappeared ; on the third day it was 
still felt Eight days after, M. Delboeuf repeated the 
order already given, and this time, in the evening, his 
command is obeyed. M. Delboeuf, who has taught 
his subjects to remember their acts under the influence 
of suggestion, asked the girl what she had felt the 
night before when she went up to embrace M. A. 

I was thinking of nothing in particular,” she said ; 
“ but when I opened the door, the idea suddenly came 
into my head to embrace M. A. ; I felt as if / was 
absolutely obliged to do it, and I embraced him.”^ ‘*At 
5.15 P.M. on the Sth April,” proceeds M. Delboeuf, "I 
suggest to M. that at the stroke of 5.30 she will go up 
and console a wooden statue of a weeping monk on 

' Revue Philosophique, Feb. 1887, p. 123. The italics are M. 


the mantelpiece. I awake her. The clock strikes ; 
M. rises from her seat, and proceeds to comfort the 
monk with many signs of commiseration, and then 
sits down again. . . . Recollection of what has 
happened is perfect — * How do you make up your 
mind to do so unreasonable a thing as that ? * */ 
feel as if I were obliged to do itl ” 

The effects of suggestion have been ably analysed 
by M. Beaunis. There is nothing more curious from 
the psychological point of view than to follow on the 
face of the subject the unfolding and development of 
the idea suggested to him. It may be, for instance, 
in the middle of a trivial conversation having no rele- 
vance to the suggestion. Suddenly the hypnotiser, 
who is on the alert, watching the subject without 
appearing to do so, observes at a given moment a kind 
of pause in the flow of ideas, an inward shock which 
betrays itself by a scarcely perceptible sign, a look, 
a gesture, or a working of the face ; then the conver- 
sation is resumed, but the idea returns to the charge 
— still faint and indefinite ; a touch of astonishment 
appears in the look, we feel something unexpected is 
from moment to moment crossing the mind like a ray 
of light. Soon the idea gradually grows in vigour ; 
takes more and more complete possession of the 
intellect ; the struggle has begun ; eyes, gestures — 
everything bespeaks, everything betrays the internal 
conflict; we follow the fluctuations of the thought; 
the subject still listens to the conversation, but 
vaguely and mechanically ; he is elsewhere : “ his 
whole being is a prey to the fixed idea which is 
becoming more and more deeply rooted in his brain. 
When the moment has come, all hesitation disap- 
pears and the face assumes a striking character of 



resolution.” This inward struggle, terminated by 
action, is not without analogy to the other struggles in 
which the moral instincts engage. And, as we know, 
the conflict is accompanied by consciousness and 
reason, for the hypnotised subjects always find some 
pretext or other for their conduct.^ The mechanism, 
as such, is therefore comparable in the two cases, and 
the subjects of M. Beaunis seem to obey the same 
natural laws as any hero in Corneille when he sacrifices 
himself to duty. There is always a great difference 
in complexity and value between these mechanically 
analogous phenomena ; in fact, the formula of action 
we call duty is the moral and self-conscious resultant 
of very complex co-ordinated forces, the resultant of 
higher natural tendencies harmonised by that formula ; 
on the other hand, command, as conveyed by sugges- 
tion, is the sudden and fugitive effect of a single and 
disturbing tendency, artificially introduced into the 
mind. It follows that he who feels the inner pressure 
of suggestion must necessarily be conscious that he is 
that he is under a disturbing 
influence, thatliels^'4a^ dominated by an isolated 
force, and not borne forward by the totality of the 
best, most normal, and most deeply rooted tendencies 
of his nature. 

Nevertheless, it is probable that by treating a 
human being as if he were a plant removed from 
its normal environment, and by systematising sugges- 
tions, we might eventually create — as I have shown 
in my Esquisse (Tune Morale 2— real artificial duties, 

^ Vide Richet, La Mimoire et la PersonnaiUt dans le SomnamhiHsme, 
{Remie Philosophique, March 18S2.)— Binet and F 6 t 6 , Animal Mag7iei 
ism, pp. 290, 291. — Moll, Hypnotism, p. 152. (Tr.) 

® Pp* 4S> 46- — Vide Binet and F^r6, Atiimal Magnetism, pp. jm- 
142. (Tr.) 


each complete in itself. This would be synthesis 
proving the accuracy of our analysis. We might 
also, by an inverse experiment, annul more or less 
provisionally this or that natural instinct A som- 
nambulist may be made to lose his memory,^ — for 
example, his memory for names, — and we may even, 
according to M. Richet, make him lose his whole 
memory {Revue Philosophique^ 8th October 1880). 
He adds : — This experiment ought only to be 
made with every possible precaution ; I have seen 
such terror and disorder supervene in the intellect — 
the disturbance lasting about a quarter of an hour — 
that I would not voluntarily renew this dangerous 
experiment” If, as most psychologists do, we iden- 
tify memory with habit and instinct, we must suppose 
it would also be possible to annihilate provisionally, 
or at least to weaken, in a somnambulist, any instinct, 
even though it be among the most fundamental and 
most binding on the self-conscious being, — for example, 
those of maternity, modesty, etc. If this suppression 
of the instinct left no traces upon waking, we would 
then be able to test the resistance of the different 
instincts, — for example, of the moral instincts, — and to 
ascertain which are the deepest and most tenacious, the 
altruistic or egoistic tendencies. We might, in that 
Hereditary and social memory called morality, distin- 
guish between the more solid parts, and the weaker 
that have been more recently superinduced, 

Of course the experimenter, if an honourable man, 
will never use the power of suggestion for the pur- 
pose of demoralising ; he will use it for ** moralising,” 
On this point, the general hints I had formerly given 

^ Mull, Hypnotism^ pp. J23-139.— Binet and F 4 re, pp, 321, 322. 


have been already successfully followed up by a con- 
siderable number of experimenters. It has now been 
shown that we can counteract a mania or depraved 
habit by an artificial habit, created by means of sug- 
gestion during the hypnotic sleep. Suggestion will 
therefore have consequences of which we cannot yet 
accurately determine the scope from this double 
point of view of mental therapeutics, and even of 
.education in the case of young neuropaths.^ In 
the first place, the therapeutic results of suggestion 
are already numerous. Dr. Voisin asserts that he 
has cured by suggestion both delirious melancholia 
and dipsomania. In all cases morphinomania may 
be cured by this means, and the cure may even be 
suddenly made, without provoking the attacks of 
furious madness ordinarily ensuing on the prohibition 
of morphia. Alcoholism and the craving for tobacco 
have been cured in the same way by MM. Voisin and 

Suggestion may also in certain cases become a 
means of correction. After the civil disturbances in 
Belgium, M, was terribly afraid of going out at night- 
fall : even a bell at that time would make him 
tremble. M. Delboeuf hypnotises and reassures him, 
and orders him to be more courageous in future ; his 
alarm disappeared as if by magic, and “ his conduct 
was modified in consequence.”^ It is possible there- 
fore to influence the conduct Jeanne Sch — , aged 
22, a thief and prostitute, lazy and slovenly, has been 
transformed by M. Voisin of the Salp^trifere — ^thanks 
to hypnotic suggestion — into a submissive, obedient, 

^ Moll, Hypnotism^ pp. 331, 332. — Binet and Fdr^, Animal Mag 
netism, pp. 359, 360. (Tr.) 

2 Revue Philosophiqtte, August 1886. M. Delboeuf. 


honest, clean, and hard-working woman. For . many 
years she had not voluntarily opened a book ; now, 
she learns by heart pages of a moral work ; all her 
affections are awakened, and finally she has been 
admitted into a charitable institution as a servant, 
where “her conduct is irreproachable.” It is true 
this is simply the substitution of a pleasant for an 
unpleasant neurosis. Numerous cases of moral cure 
of the same kind have been effected at the Salpdtrifere. 
Even in his private practice M. Voisin claims to have 
transformed, by hypnotic suggestion, a woman whose 
character was unbearable, and to have made her 
gentle and affectionate to her husband, and hence- 
forth free from exhibitions of temper, A metamor- 
phosis indeed ! In the same way. Dr. Li^bault, of 
Nancy, succeeded, by means of a single suggestion, in 
making a persistently idle boy diligent for a period 
of six weeks. This is a beginning. It may, however, 
be asked whether it is not better to leave a boy in 
idleness than to make him a neuropath. M. Delboeuf 
has recently proposed the use of suggestion for young 
criminals in reformatories and houses of correction. 
Already several doctors have applied for permission 
to make experiments. While making every allow- 
ance for professional enthusiasm, the truth remains 
that suggestion has a considerable influence, and, as 
we shall see, the psychologist may draw important 
deductions from this fact 


education and heredity. 

11. Psychological Suggestion, Moral and Social 

Physiological and neuropathic suggestion is nothing 
but the exaggeration of facts occurring in the normal 
state. Experiment on the nervous system is a kind 
of analysis which isolates the facts, and thus throws 
them into relief. Hence we may and ought to admit 
a psychological, moral, and social suggestion, which 
is produced even in the healthiest subjects, without 
acquiring that artificial exaggeration to which nervous 
derangements are due. This normal suggestion, if 
well organised and regulated, may evidently either 
favour or repress the effects of heredity. Let us study 
it in its origin and different forms. 

I have already pointed out that we may now con- 
sider it as proved, that if mental suggestion exists to 
an exceptional degree in certain subjects peculiarly 
qualified for its reception, it ought, in virtue of the 
analogy of constitution in the human race, to exist 
also in some degree, however slight, in everybody: 
why then is it not more easily detected ? Because: — 
1st, it is very weak in most people, only producing an 
effect which is imperceptible at any given moment 
or in any detached instance, though it may well 
have a cumulative influence which is very consider- 
able ; 2nd, in normal subjects mental suggestions 
must intersect more or less, coming as they do from 
very different individuals coincidently. In our normal 
state we are not under the influence of one determinate 

^ By physiological suggestion is implied mental suggestion effected 
by physiological means— -e.g,, hypnotism. By purely psychological sug- 
gestion is implied mental suggestion by means of a psychological char- 
acter e,g., commands, advice, the contagion of example, sympathy, 
imitation, etc. — M. FouiLLfiE. 



magnetiser, the only person in the world who moulds 
us to his will. But it does not follow that we are not 
accessible to an infinite number of small suggestions, 
sometimes inhibiting each other, sometimes accumu- 
lating so as to produce a very appreciable resultant 
effect; these are suggestions that have come, not 
from an isolated individual, but from the whole of 
society, from the whole of our environment: they 
are, strictly speaking, social suggestions. 

Nothing happens, then, in artificial sleep which 
cannot be produced in a more or less rudimentary 
degree in most people in a waking state ; we are all 
susceptible to suggestions, and even social life is only, 
so to speak, a balanced interchange of reciprocal sug- 
gestions. But the possibility of personal resistance 
to suggestion varies considerably with the individual. 
There are some who are almost incapable of resist- 
ance, whose personality in a measure goes for nothing 
in the totality of motives determining action. They 
are stricken with a kind of moral paralysis. That 
remarkable observer, Dostoieffsky, mentions among 
other characteristics of the criminal class, the impossi- 
bility of repressing a desire : reason has no power 
over these men, except in so far as their volition is in 
abeyance. When they desire something, obstacles 
are non-existent to them. . . . They are born with 
an idea which unconsciously sways them to and fro 
all their lives ; in this fashion they wander aimlessly 
till they have met with some object violently arousing 
desire within them, and then they lose their heads. 
When P^trof wants something, that something he 
must have. An individual like P^trof will assassi- 
nate a man for twenty-five copecks, simply for the 
price of half a pint ; on another occasion he will 



look with contempt on hundreds of thousands of 

Example ought of itself to exert a force, due to 
the unity and continuity of the social consciousness. 
The mere sight of rhythmic motion induces the 
neuropath to imitate it — a phenomenon of psycho- 
motor suggestion of which MM. Richet and F6r6 
have given instances.^ Hence arise spasmodic 
epidemics. If we ask the neuropath to look atten- 
tively at the motion of flexion given to our hand, in 
a few minutes he declares he has a sensation as if the 
same movement is taking place in his own hand, 
although it is perfectly motionless. But this immo- 
bility does not continue, for his hand very soon 
begins to carry out irresistibly the rhythmic move- 
ments of flexion. All perception is more or less 
reducible to an imitation, to the creation within us of 
a state corresponding to that which we see in others ; 
all perception is a kind of incipient suggestion, which 
in certain individuals, not being neutralised by other 
suggestions, completes itself in action. The sugges- 
tive element inherent in all perception is, as we have 
seen, stronger in proportion as the perception is that 
of an action or of a state bordering on action.^ In 
fact, all suggestion becomes irresistible when per- 
ception, instead of being produced in the midst of 
the complex states of consciousness which limit it, 
occupies the whole consciousness, and at a given 
moment constitutes the whole inner being. This 
state has been called monoldeism, and is found in 

^ Quoted by M. Garofalo, Hevue Philosophique, March 18S7, p. 236.— 
Ellis, The Criminal Scott), pp. 17, 18, 147, 213. (Tr.) 

^ Binet and F 4 r 6 , Animal Magnetism^ pp, 281 et seq, (Tr.) 

Here especially is manifested what has been termed the ** idea- 


somnambulists, and in all whose mental equilibrium is 
made more or less unstable by a kind of abstraction 
which suppresses in the mind one aspect of reality. 

The neuropath who tends to mechanically repro- 
duce a muscular movement executed in his presence, 
will equally tend to reproduce a state of sensibility 
or volition which he sees in another individual, and 
which has been revealed to him either directly by 
facial expression, or indirectly by speech and the tone 
of the voice. 

Thus suggestion is the transformation by which a 
relatively passive organism tends to bring itself into 
unison with a relatively active organism ; the latter 
dominates the former, and eventually controls its 
external movements, its volitions, and its inward 
beliefs. Intercourse with respected relatives, a 
master, or any superior whatever, must produce 
suggestions which extend through a child's lifetime. 
Education has the magic and " charms ” spoken of by 
Callicles in the Gorgias,^ of which it makes use to 
tame the young lions when need arises. There are 
in man “thoughts by imitation,” which are trans- 
mitted from individual to individual, and generation 
to generation, with the same strength as real instincts. 
I know a child of thirteen, who had read in Martin 
Paz^ one of Jules Verne's novels, the description of a 
captivating heroine who had a mincing gait, and from 

^ The following is Professor Jowett’s translation of the passage 
referred to; — “These are the men who act according to nature; yes, 
by Heaven, and according to the laws of nature : not perhaps according 
to that artificial law, which we forge and impose upon our fellows, of 
whom we take the best and strongest from their youth upwards, and 
tame them like young lions — charming them with the sound of the 
voice, and saying to them that with equality they must be content, and 
that the equal is the honourable and the just.” (Tr. ) 


that time forward the child endeavoured to take very 
short steps. This habit is now so inveterate that she 
will in all probability never be able to rid herself of it. 
If we take into account the continuous interconnec- 
tion of every movement of the body, we shall under- 
stand what an important modification this artistic 
impression has introduced into this child’s mode 
of existence — little steps, gestures, and voice, and 
perhaps a childish expression of face. 

We know the rapidity with which crimes are 
propagated by suggestion in the very form under 
which the first was accomplished : women cut to 
pieces, strange suicides, the nail in the sentry-box 
from which seven soldiers in succession hanged 
^feenrseivesr^etc.^ Hence arises the danger of the 
press. The editor of the Morning Herald has 
declared that he will never insert in his paper reports 
of murders, suicides, or forms of madness, because 
they may become contagious ; and he has kept his 
word. The authority possessed by certain persons is 
also explained by the contagion of a state of con- 
sciousness, and this state is nothing but the state of 
belief and faith, the intensity of assurance. Obedi- 
ence is the effect of successful suggestion, and the 
power of suggestion is reducible to the power of 
assertion. Accordingly, the temperaments most 
capable of acquiring authority over men are those 
which assert most strongly, or which at least appear to 
assert most strongly, by gesture and tone. Those in 
whom we believe most, and who are most obeyed, are 
those who have or seem to have the strongest belief. 

The power of affirmation being reducible to an 
energy of the will, the words that is may be reduced 
^ Vide Ellis, The Criminal^ p. 177. — Tuke, op, cif,f p. 66. (Tr.) 



to : — / wish this to be so, I act as if this were so, I 
adapt mj/self entirely to this supposed pheno^mnon. 
Hence the following law: every strong will tends 
to create a will in the same direction in other 
individuals ; every adaptation of the consciousness 
to a supposed phenomenon — for example, a future 
event or distant ideal — tends to propagate itself 
in other consciousnesses, and the social conditions 
favourable to the appearance of the phenomenon 
tend of themselves to enter into combination, owing 
solely to the fact that their combination has already 
been presented to an individual consciousness. 

What I think and see with sufficient energy, I 
make everybody else think and see ; and if all see it, 
it exists, at least in so far as consciousness and 
collective belief may be regarded as equivalent to a 

The second law is, that the contagious influence of 
a belief, and consequently of a volition, is in direct 
ratio to its force of inward tension, and, so to speak, 
of its first inward realisation. The more we ourselves 
believe and act, the more do we act on others and 
make them believe. Energetic volition is immedi- 
ately transformed into a kind of command ; authority 
is the centre from which action is radiated. Char- 
latans and orators are generally familiar with the 
contagious power of affirmation; the voice of assur- 
ance and accent of faith in which they assert what 
they wish to convince their audience of must be 
heard ; tone of voice is their first and sometimes the 
most solid of their arguments. 

In^'hypnotisable subjects^ — we must not forget that 
they are about 30 per cent, of normal individuals — 
^ Moll, Hypnotism^ pp. 38-41. (Tr.) 


a simple assertion in the waking state, made authori- 
tatively by a person in whom they have confidence, 
is enough to produce illusions or true hallucinations. 
On the simple assertion of M. Bernheim, one of his 
subjects, completely awake, gives information to a 
commissary of police of a scuffle between workmen 
which he thinks he has seen in a chapel ; moreover, he 
declares himself ready to give sworn evidence before 
the magistrate. Thus we see how suggested hallu- 
cinations become the basis of a line of conduct, and 
may give rise to the most serious social consequences. 
There is a natural power and authority in the tone 
of voice, a power which is well exhibited by 
observation of hypnotisable subjects, whom children 
resemble in so many ways. M. Delbceuf, addressing 
a hypnotisable but unhypnotised subject, can, he 
tells us, either make her see his beard, which is really 
white, as if it were black, or assent in part: “Not 
quite black, sir; there are many white hairs in it,” or 
can persuade her of nothing at all. There is an 
infinite number of gradations in the tone of the voice ; 
and hypnotisable subjects, being peculiarly sensitive, 
interpret them more rapidly than others ; but their 
actions are only the translation and exaggeration of 
impressions felt by every one. 

Suggestion by imitation and nervous sympathy 
increases in power when gesture and even the action 
itself are added to the tone of voice.- MM. Binet and 
F 6 t 6 remark that if we say to a subject, “ Grip that 
with all your might,” a dynamometric contraction of 
much less intensity is produced than when we grip 
the object ourselves, and say, “Do as I do.”^ 

The commands of God are real suggestions made 

^ Animal Magnetism, pp. 120-134, 295. (Tf.) 


in the ears of a whole race — suggestions the more 
powerful because they were based on the authority of 
a superhuman being, and because the sound of the 
words seemed to be of heavenly origin. Every 
strong impulse in a conscious being becomes a kind 
of inward voice saying: “Thou shalt! thou shalt 
not ! advance ! retreat ! ” It therefore assumes the 
form of a precise suggestion, which owes its authority 
to its very precision, and if energetic enough becomes 
a command : “ Thou shalt do this ! thou shalt not do 

Words are, in man, the natural and necessary pro- 
duct of intellectual evolution, when consciousness is 
characterised by a certain distinctness; they are a 
phase in the development of the idea and the emo- 
tion, from which they are inseparable. Accordingly 
every word (especially in the concrete and limited 
tongues of primitive races) immediately and vigor- 
ously awakens the idea or the corresponding emotion. 
On the other hand, since it is a psychological law 
that every image vividly engrossing the consciousness 
tends to issue in action, a word is an action in its 
inception. All the words of a language, especially 
of a primitive race, are possibilities competing with 
each other for realisation — suggestions neutralising „ 
each other. When a person, armed in our opinion 
with authority of any kind, utters a word to us, or 
formulates a precept, he completes and brings into 
overt action a latent suggestion already a part of our- 
selves — gives a new force to a pre-existing impulse. 
The internal impulse of power seeking to manifest 
itself, and the external impulse of speech, are two forces 
of the same nature, which can only be conjoined in 
moral suggestion, or command, whether hypnotic or 



not. Further, a word is effective only inasmuch as it 
is the symbol of that act of the will or reaction of the 
sensibility which it expresses and commands. In 
.itself it is nothing. A hypnotised subject to whom it 
has been suggested that he should steal a spoon, puts 
out his hand to a watch he sees on the table ; it was 
the moral idea of the theft, rather than the object of 
the theft, that was borne in upon his mind. Another, to 
whom Dr. Bernheim had suggested that upon waking 
he would smell eau de cologne very strongly, thought 
that he smelled a very strong odour, but that it was 
burnt vinegar. Words mean nothing to the hypnotised 
subject except as definitions of the moral or sensory 
character of actions or reactions ; it is this character 
that is of importance to him, and the external object 
of these actions or reactions is of but slight import- 
ance. Belief, as I have said, plays a leading part in all 
suggestion; suggestions affecting sensibility, and par- 
ticularly visual imagery, enable us to measure the force 
of the belief by the intensity of the image produced. 
The mere fact that we cannot believe a certain thing 
makes our representation of it fainter. Doubt rela- 
tive to a suggested image prevents the production of 
complete hallucination. M. Binet said one day to a 
sleeping subject : “ Look at that dog sitting on the 
carpet” The subject immediately saw the dog; only 
as it seemed to him very strange that the dog should 
have so suddenly entered the laboratory, the image 
failed to become objectified. “You want to ‘halluci- 
nate ’ me.” “ Don’t you see the dog then ? ” “ Yes, I 

see it in my imagination, but I know perfectly well it 
is not on the carpet” Another patient being allowed 
to discuss a suggestion of Dr. Binet’s, the latter im- 
posed silence on him, and the subject immediately 



answered : “ I know why you do not wish me to dis- 
cuss the suggestion, because it would weaken it*' A 
doubtful turn of expression — “ If you do such and 
such a thing" — either produces a very faint sug- 
gestion or none at all. 

The if is introduced into the mind of the subject, 
and creates a meeting point of divergent paths, instead 
of the single direction in which the will was to be im- 
pelled. The power possessed by the subject of weaken- 
ing the suggested image by doubt explains why auto- 
suggestion succeeds when simple suggestion fails. We 
always believe more strongly what we assert to our- 
selves than what others assert to us. “ If the subject 
himself," says M. Binet, “ by dint of reasoning sug- 
gests to himself an idea, he will adopt it without 
resistance, it will be more intense, and therefore more 
efficacious.” Again, let me quote a remarkable experi- 
ment by M. Binet. We know that in catalepsy an 
expressive attitude given to the limbs is immediately 
reflected on the face : this is muscular suggestion. M. 
Binet asked himself if a moral suggestion given by 
way of preliminary could not modify and even sus- 
pend muscular suggestion in catalepsy. G. being 
in the somnambulist state, he warns her that she is 
to be thrown into the cataleptic state, and that in this 
state her face will remain impassive whatever move- 
ments are communicated to her hands. The patient 
instead of submitting to the injunction, discusses it, 
and observes that she cannot obey because she loses 
consciousness during catalepsy. In spite of these very 
well reasoned misgivings of the subject, M. Binet pro- 
ceeds with the experiment, but the muscular sugges- 
tions are carried out as usual ; the failure is complete. 
M. Binet then puts her again into the somnambulist 


State, and she spontaneously inquires if the sugges- 
tion has succeeded. M. Binet answers in a perfectly 
natural tone that it has been quite successful, and 
the patient being astonished but convinced, he imme- 
diately throws her into catalepsy again, and repeats 
the experiment This time it is completely successful; 
the preliminary mental suggestion entirely suspends 
the muscular suggestions ; when her hands are put to 
her mouth in the position of sending a kiss, the line of 
the mouth remains motionless ; on closing the fists 
before her eyes, no sign of anger appears. In order to 
gradually awaken muscular suggestion, the hand had 
to be left for five minutes in the same position (of 
throwing a kiss) ; at the end of that time, M. Binet 
succeeded in bringing a smile to the moutli by giving 
the hand a waving motion.^ 

Just as a positive suggestion — Le., the idea that one 
will do or see a thing — is tantamount to a contagious 
assertion, in the same way a negative suggestion — 
the idea that we shall not see this or that person 
present, or that we shall not perform this or that 
habitual act — reduces to a contagious negation, which 
is an assertion of another kind. As M. Binet 
remarks, scepticism is suggested instead of faith. 
We can thus weaken and even entirely destroy 
real perceptions.^ When we say to a subject : “ You 
cannot move your arm,” we paralyse the motor cur- 
rent that sets the arm in motion. Hence I think we 
can establish the following law : — Every manifesta- 
tion of muscular or sensorial activity does not take 
effect unless accompanied by a certain belief in one's 
self, or by the expectation of a determinate result, on 
the occurrence of certain antecedent conditions. The 
^ Moll, pp. 17 1 et seq. 2 Moll, vid$ Index, “Paralyses/’ 


consciousness of action is thus partly reduced to the 
belief that one is acting, and if this belief is destroyed, 
the consciousness itself becomes disorganised. All 
conscious life is based on a certain self-confidence, 
which may be identified with self-habit ; and this 
self-habit, this vague belief in the conformity of 
what one has been, with what one is, and will be, 
may be very easily disturbed, just as reflex acts 
may be disturbed by a doubt arising from conscious 

III. Suggestion as a Means of Moral Education^ and 
as an Influence modifying Heredity. 

The state of the child at the moment of its entrance 
into the world is more or less comparable to that of a 
hypnotised subject. There is the same absence of 
ideas or ** aldeism,” the same domination of a single 
idea or passive “ monoldeism.” Further, all children 
are not only hypnotisable, but readily hypnotisable. 
In fact, they are peculiarly open to suggestion and 

Everything the child perceives will therefore be a 

^ M. Motet made an interesting communication to the Acadimie de 
Mtdeciney 12th April 1887, on the false evidence given by children 
in courts of law. Drawing attention to the affecting character of 
the account given by a child of the details of a crime, the author 
has collected a number of facts which clearly characterise the mental 
state of a child-plaintiff, and which show the psychic mechanism of 
their false evidence. In many of these cases the gravest accusations 
have no other motive than the necessity for explaining some trivial 
prank. In one case, the child not knowing what answer to make to its 
mother, the latter, by her questions, suggests the whole story of an 
indecent assault, which the child retains and repeats before the magis- 
trate. In another, a child plays truant from school and falls into the 
water, and under the influence of this moral shock, which awakens in 
him a series of dreams and phantasms of previous fear, he organises a 



suggestion ; this suggestion will give rise to a habit 
which may sometimes be prolonged through its life- 
time, just as impressions of fright instilled in children 
by nurses are, as we know, perpetuated. Suggestion, 
as I have said before, is the introduction within us of 
^;practical belief which, is spontaneously realised ; the 
moral art of suggestion may therefore be defined 
as the art of modifying an individual by persuading 
him that he is or may be other than he is. This art is 
one of the most important appliances in education. 
All education, indeed, should be directed to this end, 
to convince the child that he is capable of good and 
incapable of evil^ in order to render him actually so ; 
to persuade him that he has a strong will, in order to 
give him strength of will ; to make him believe he is 
morally free and master of himself, in order that *‘the 

mental drama, and accuses an individual of having thrown him into the 
water. In another case, hypnagogic hallucinations become the basis of 
an accusation of indecent assault. In fact, leading questions implying 
guilt, made in an energetic tone of voice, appear enough under other 
circumstances to determine in the child a process of unconscious assimi- 
lation, in virtue of which he proceeds to declare himself guilty of a 
crime he has not committed, or to testify to what he has never seen. In 
all these cases we recognise the influence of suggestion and auto-sugges- 
tion, as having an exaggerated effect upon the child’s brain, which is 
still plastic and in process of organisation. Whereas in the adult it is the 
contradictory details and different versions which prove that there is 
wilful perjury, so that the magistrates wait in their examination for the 
moment when the witness will contradict himself, it is otherwise with 
the child ; the automatic invariability of its deposition ought to be a 
reason for suspecting its veracity, When a medical expert,” con- 
cludes M. Motet, “after several visits, finds the same words and the 
same details, when he has only to start the train of ideas to hear 
unfolded in unchanging sequence the most important statements, 
we may be sure the child is not telling the truth, and that it is 
unconsciously substituting acquired data for the true account of -events 
in which it may have taken part .” — Vide also Moll, pp. 345 et seq. 


idea of moral liberty^’ may tend to progressively 
realise itself. Moral slavery, "aboulia,*' as it is called, 
reduces either to a partial unconsciousness an irreso- 
lution which makes the agent abandon himself at 
every turn to opposed impulses without struggle or 
comparison, or to the belief that he will have no 
strength to resist, that he is powerless, or, in other 
words, that his consciousness has no power to act on 
the ideas and tendencies that cross it To deny the 
repressive power of his own consciousness is to 
abandon himself with a light heart to the haphazard 
play of impulse. 

Further, the hypnotiser who wishes to produce an 
act with certainty takes care to suggest, along with 
the idea of action, the idea that the subject cannot but 
do as he is told ; he creates simultaneously a tendency 
to act, and the idea that the tendency is irresistible ; 
he excites the brain with regard to one point, while 
he paralyses it with regard to every other ; he isolates 
an impulse from the total mental system which might 
otherwise resist it, and makes — so to speak — a 
void around it Thus he creates an entirely artificial 
and morbid state similar to the states of aboulia 
observed in numerous patients. M. Bernheim, for 
instance, had suggested to S. the idea of a theft, 
without the idea that he could not resist the 
suggestion. On his awaking, S. sees a watch, puts 
out his hand to it, and then stops short. “No!” 
says he, “it would be thieving.” Another day Dr. 
Bernheim sends him to sleep again, and says : “You 
will put this spoon in your pocket ; you will be 
unable to do otherwiseP When S. awakes he sees the 
spoon, still hesitates a moment (the persuasion of 
powerlessness not being quite strong enough), and 



cries : “ Well, so much the worse ! ” and puts the spoon 
in his pocket 

It is often enough to tell children and young people, 
or otherwise lead them to believe, that we assume 
this or that good quality in them, to induce them to 
exert themselves to justify the opinion. To assume 
in them depraved sentiments, to reproach them 
undeservedly, to treat them badly, is to produce the 
contrary result It has been justly said that the art 
of managing the young consists before anything else 
in assuming them to be as good as they wish them- 
selves to be. If an hypnotic subject is persuaded he 
is a pig, he straightway wallows and grunts like a pig. 
The same happens in the case of those who theoreti- 
cally think themselves of no more worth than a 
pig; their practice must necessarily offer points of 
correspondence with their theory. This is an auto- 

The same principles find their application in the 
art of governing men. Numerous facts from prison- 
life show that to treat a half-criminal as a great 
criminal is to urge to crime. To raise a man in the 
esteem of the public and himself is to raise him in 
reality. A clasp of the hand offered by an enthusi- 
astic young lawyer to a thief who had been ten times 
convicted was enough to produce a moral impression 
which is lasting to the present moment. A prisoner, 
seeing one of his comrades rushing forward to strike 
the governor of the prison, stops him by an almost 
instinctive movement ; and this action will be enough 
to save him from himself, to rescue him from his 
antecedents and moral environment Henceforth his 
conduct will be irreproachable.^ 

^ Ellis, The Qrifnmal, pp. 232-282. (Tr.) 


Testimony of esteem is one of the most powerful 
forms of suggestion.^ 

On the other hand, to believe in the wickedness of 
any one is as a rule to make him more wicked than 
he is. In education, therefore, we must always obey 
the rule just laid down : presuppose the existence of 
goodness and goodwill. Every statement made aloud 
upon the mental state of a child immediately plays 
the rdle of a suggestion : “ This child is naughty — 
he is idle — he will not do this or that.” How 
many vices are thus developed, not by hereditary 
fatality, but by ill-advised education For the same 
reason when a child has misconducted itself, we must 
not in blaming it interpret the action in its worst 
sense. The child is in general too . unconscious to 
have had a completely perverse intention ; to ascribe 
to it deliberation, fixed purpose, and manly resolution 

^ Are the numerous cases of second offences, ascertained to have 
taken place after the imprisonment of delinquents, due to the incura- 
bility of crime, or are they not rather due to the deplorable organisation 
of our prisons, where everything suggests and teaches crime? The 
variability of second offences with the country, and with prison organ- 
isation, would seem to prove the latter case ; they are 70 per cent, in 
Belgium and 40 per cent, in France. The system of separate cells has 
brought them down to 10 per cent. ; in fact, at Zwickau, by **the 
graduation of punishment and its adaptation to the individual,” the 
proportion has been reduced to 2.68 per cent. We must draw the 
conclusion that, as far as we know at present, it is barely certain that 
as many as 20 per cent, of our criminals are predestined to crime by 
other causes than their environment, and the suggestions they receive 
from it. And if, even in this 20 per cent., we admit the overmastering 
influence of atavism, we must know how far this action has been 
unaided in their early years by the suggestions of their first education, 
which are the most powerful of all. 

2 Receipt for stopping crying: Pour cold water on the face. “Come, 
my dear, wash those red eyes of yours ; oh, how much good that does 
you ! ” This is suggestion of a comforting idea, instead of a depressing 


in wrong doing, is to deceive ourselves and develop 
those habits in it; to assume the existence of vice is 
often to produce it W^e must therefore say to the 
child : You did not really wish to do that ; but see 
how others would interpret your action if they did not 
know you.” 

When a man, followed by a vaguely threatening 
crowd, musters up courage to face it, and suddenly 
cries, You want to hang me, do you ? ” there is every 
chance that they will immediately apply the formula 
he has found for them. This is the case with a 
multitude of more or less bad instincts, which are 
necessarily awakened in the child’s heart at certain 
moments of its existence ; we must not give the 
child the formula of its instincts^ or by so doing we 
strengthen them and urge them to pass into action. 
Sometimes, indeed, we create them. Hence this one 
important rule I lay down for educators : It is as use- 
ful to make good tendencies self-conscious, as it is 
dangerous to make the bad tendencies self-conscious, 
when as yet they are not so. 

A sentiment is a very complex thing — so complex 
that parents must not fancy they can raise it by a 
reproach. To assert, for instance, that a child is in- 
different to its parents, is not the way to make it 
affectionate ; on the contrary, it is much to be feared 
that assertion of indifference only produces it, or at 
any rate increases it, by persuading the child of its 
existence. A sentiment must be imputed in far 
more delicate terms than an act We may reproach 
a child for having done or not done this or that ; 
but in my opinion it should be a rule in educa- 
tion to suggest rather than reproach in matters of 


Suggestion may weaken or momentarily increase 
intelligence ; we may suggest to a person that he is 
a fool, that he is incapable of understanding this 
or that, that he will be unable to do that or the other ; 
thereby we develop a proportionate lack of intelligence 
and want of power. The educator, on the contrary, 
should follow this rule : Persuade the child that he 
will be able to understand send to do a thing. In Pascal’s 
words : — " Man is so made that by dint of frequent 
asserting that he is a fool, we make him believe it ; 
and by dint of telling himself this, he makes himself 
believe it For man carries on with himself an 
inward conversation, which it is of importance to 
regulate carefully ; corrumpunt mores bonos coUoquia 

We ought to accept what a child says or does out of 
good-wilL His confidence in all those around him 
ought to stifle his innate timidity. When we think of 
the sum total of courage which a child, who feels 
himself such a mere beginner, and so unskilful in every- 
thing, must summon up to express himself or take 
the slightest initiative in the presence of adults, we 
understand how very important it is not to let timidity 
get the upper hand, and eventually paralyse him. We 
must therefore look at the child with an encouraging 
eye, making him observe, merely in a quiet way, 
when the opportunity arises, that he would succeed 
better if he acted in such or such a manner. He must 
learn everything ; we must show our appreciation of 
his least effort, while we tell him what effort has yet 
to be exerted. 

Why is it a good thing to give tasks to children? 
To accustom them, in the first place, to will, and 
in the second place, to succeed — i.e., to feel their 


own power.^ One sentiment, then, that should be 
developed in the child, is true self-confidence. We 
all have pride, but we have not all sufficient confidence 
in ourselves — or rather in our perseverance in effbrt 
Every one says : So much I am well able to do ; ” but 
few venture to try, or if they do they quickly give it 
up, and pride ends in a kind of inward abasement and 
self-annihilation. “ Have faith is the cry of piety. 
For morality it is further necessary to have faith in 
oneself, in one’s own power, and that independently 
of all external aid ; it is a good thing to expect an 
abundant spring to leap forth from the heart at the 
first summons, without the employment of the magic 
wand which Moses used in his day of doubt ; the least 
doubt may make us dry and sterile, and prevent the 
welling-up of the living will. We must have con- 
fidence in the power of our lord and master — our- 
selves. The dominant idea of religious morality is 
the powerlessness of the will without grace, — in 
other words, the opposition of will and power, the 
original sin seated in the heart of man. Original 
sin is a kind of suggestion instilled in this way 
from childhood, and producing a real hereditary 
sin. There is in us, said the Hindoo mystics, a 
self which is the enemy of self This internal foe 
is personified by Christians in Satan, ever present 
in the best of us. Thus the obsession of sin be- 
came a true hallucination, and gave place to a 

^ Only, not to obtain an effect diametrically opposed to what we 
desire, the task must require a minimum of time, and be far from 
exceeding the chUd’s powers. The task should only be increased in 
proportion to the strength of the pupil, and so as to always constitute a 
gymnastic exercise of the attention and the will, never an exhausting 
labour. Madame Perier tells us that Pascal’s father made a rule never 
to give his boy a task beyond his powers. 


doubting of the personality such as we see in certain 

Nowadays we no longer do feel, and we no longer 
ought to feel, the demon within us; we ought to 
proclaim that the so-called " possessed ” are impotent 
or sick, and that healthy people are good ; man, when 
irytijs, is the real ay w?. In religion and in morality alike, 
the idea of salvation — ie., healthgiving — is the essential 
idea; it is in no way essential to its existence that it 
should be considered as a simple corollary of the idea 
of sin. We can conceive of health without sin, nor is 
there a contradiction in this ; after all it was upon the 
idea of health that Jesus insisted most, much more 
than on sin ; indeed, the most imperfect and least 
human portions of the gospel are those referring to sin. 
The sentiment of sin, no doubt, includes an element 
worthy of respect — scrupulousness, the conscience 
embittered and tormented by the least deviation from 
its ideal ; but this inward grief must not increase so 
as to fill the whole of life, and to give birth to what is 
really moral pessimism. If self-distrust be a good 
thing, it is also a good thing to believe in one's own 
powers. A too intense sense of Sin may lead to a kind 
of moral paralysis. We spontaneously link ourselves 
to the object of our dread ; we are attracted by the fear- 
ful object upon which we fix our minds ; human nature 
is itself perverted by asserting its irremediable perver- 
sion. In this respect the lay morality of Confucius, 
of which the peculiar characteristic is the repeated 
assertion of the goodness of human nature in the 
normal man, is much superior to the religious ethics 
derived from Christianity or Brahminism. Although 
the doctrine may be disputed from the physiological 
point of view, it is useful for educative suggestions. 

3 ^ 


“ I say that human nature is good/' writes Meng-Tseu ; 
“ . . . there is no man who is not naturally good, just 
as there is no stream which does not naturally find its 
own level. . . . The heart is the same in all men. 
What, then, is the common property of all hearts? 
What is called natural reason, natural equity. . . . 
Natural equity pleases the heart, as a tasty morsel 
pleases the palate. . . . The human race, created by 
God, has received as its portion a faculty for action and 
a rule for action." Modern philosophy, while re-estab- 
lishing the of heredity, must return in a measure to 
the ancient wisdom of China, and must free man from 
deadly sin ; it must show not only that moral obliga- 
tion presupposes the faculty of action, but that it pro- 
ceeds from it, that it is the normal exercise of it, that 
he who does with reflection and reason what he can, 
also does what he ought. "Have you noticed,” 
says Meng-Tseu, naively enough, " that in years of 
plenty many good actions are done, and that in poor 
years many bad actions are done ? " Meng-Tseu is 
right ; all the causes of discord among mankind are 
always a more or less complex transubstantiation of a 
piece of primitive bread ; man's real sin is hunger in 
all its forms. An organism completely nourished, not 
only in its framework and muscles, but in the finest 
ramifications of its nervous system, would be, but for 
morbid hereditary dispositions, a well-equilibrated 
organism. Every vice, which reduces to a dis- 
equilibration, thus reduces scientifically to the more 
or less incomplete nutrition of some deeply-seated 

Man is not fundamentally bad, for he is a naturally 
sociable being. Homo homini lupus is true, but even 
the wolves have some good in them, for they sometimes 


assemble in bands and organise more or less pro- 
visional societies. Besides, they have the best of the 
animals — the dog — for cousin-german. If man has 
sometimes the instincts of the wolf, he has also those 
of the dog ; he has also those of the sheep ; and all 
this makes a mixture which is not exactly ideal 
virtue or sanctity, but which Chinese wisdom was 
right not to underrate. Every being who is not 
monocellular is sure to have something good in him, 
because he is a society in embryo, and a society does 
not subsist without a certain equilibrium, a mutual 
balance of activities. Further, the monocellular being 
itself would become plural if more completely 
analysed ; nothing in tiie universe is simple; now, 
every one who is complex has always more or less 
solidarity with other beings. Man, being the most 
complex being we know of, has also more solidarity 
with respect to others; moreover, he is the being with 
most consciousness of that solidarity. Now, he is 
the best, who has most consciousness of his solidarity 
with other beings and the universe. 

The essential purpose of education, as I have 
pointed out, is to create, by direct suggestion or 
repeated action, a series of habits — i.e., of permanent 
reflex impulses, capable of strengthening the other 
impulses of hereditary origin, or, on the other hand, 
of substituting themselves for them and arresting 
them. The most certain remedy for temptation 
assailing the instincts is, therefore, as all educators 
are more or less aware, suggestion by precept and 
example, by idea and action. Children like firmness, 
even if it affects themselves. An energetic will, 
employed for what is good and just, imposes itself 
on them ; just as they admire physical strength, so 



they admire moral strength, which is will: this 
IS an hereditary instinct, and salutary for the race. 
Now, as a child always models itself on those around 
it, and imitates especially what in them most strikes 
it, to have power of will is to make the child have it: 
to set the example of firmness in what is just and 
true is to make him in his turn just and true. But 
the educator must proceed in a manner entirely 
different from that of the trainer, who tries from the 
very first to arouse in the animal a tendency to 
mechanical obedience. The object is not to break 
the child’s will, but to prevent the struggle with the 
paternal will^ — to direct and simultaneously 
strengthen the will. What, then, is true authority, 
and how should it be exercised? Authority is 
composed of three elements — ist, affection and 
moral respect ; 2nd, the habit of submission — a habit 
bom of practice; 3rd, fear. Each of these three 
elements enters into the sentiment of authority, but 
ought to be subordinated to that of affection. Affec- 
tion renders harsh authority and punishment useless. 
A loving child obeys lest he should “give his parents 
pain.” The child needing punishment is the child 
lacking affection ; lavish on it enough love, and blows 
will be unnecessary, for love begets love — ^the most 
powerful weapon in all education. 

Besides, affection should be a reward earned by the 
child for its conduct. “Be good and you will be 
loved.” And it must attach such a value to the 
reward that all else is as nothing in comparison. 
With the advent of reason the child must first reach 
the point of casting out fear, and then obey; not 
because it is in the habit of obeying, but because it 
respects and loves — especially because it loves ; for 


respect is at bottom nothing but affection. But 
reason ought only to suppress the two latter elements 
— fear and the habit of submission — when affection 
is strong enough to compensate for them. Analysis 
applied to submission by habit destroys it, by making 
it a matter for discussion. To the sentiment of fear 
analysis is still more unfavourable ; fear is only moral 
when spontaneous, when produced rather by respect 
than dread. If the child passes from this stage to 
that of reason, he will put the satisfaction of acting 
as he likes in one scale, and punishment in the other, 
and then he will either be a coward and give way, 
or he will harbour a rebellious spirit. The child is 
not like the criminal, whom society strikes without 
troubling itself about the mental impressions punish- 
ment will produce. It is therefore very important to 
prevent this spirit of analysis from dissociating in the 
child at too early a period the elements which con- 
stitute in his eyes respect for his parents.^ 

Corporal punishment in the very young may enter 
into the sentiment of moral authority as a constituent 
element, but this element ought not to have too much 
prominence, nor should it encroach on the others; 
otherwise it alters the sentiment of moral authority 
and replaces it by cowardly fear or a rebellious spirit 
In order to decide when in full knowledge of the 
circumstances whether the corporal punishment of 
little children may be useful, we must lay down the 
genersfl principle that in no case should the parents 

1 Practical conclusion : a child should never be allowed time for 
reflection ; he should yield to a spontaneous movement, should be 
carried away by repentance for his fault. It is important that he 
should at once understand that the punishment inflicted on him is just 
— that he has deserved it ; in a word, he must be morally punished by 
remorse for the fault committed. 


show brutal anger to the children ; otherwise the 
latter, following the example set them, will feel 
themselves in their turn justified in being passionate 
and brutal. Parents may be indignant with a mis- 
chievous or unjust act in proportion as the child 
acted mischievously or unjustly, but they must not 
show violence. The justification of corporal punish- 
ment at a tender age is that a child will undergo, 
later in life, the ruder consequences of his acts \ but 
as these consequences do not always follow the 
immediate accomplishment of the action, and as the 
child is too short-sighted to foresee the future, it 
follows that he cannot connect effect and cause. 
Corporal punishment, inflicted after an act which he 
knows to be a bad act, should appear to him the 
logical sequel of that act, although it is a sequel 
conjoined with it merely by the will of his parents. 
Trivial corrections ought never to be inflicted on 
children at random ; they constitute their first experi- 
ence of the social sanction, their first punishment 
after a verdict We cannot, from the pedagogic 
point of view, help approving of that influential 
elector in mid-France, who, when he had to chastise 
his children rather severely, requested that the rod 
should be wielded by the hands of the deputy of 
the department^ Unfortunately every elector has 
not got his representative at his disposal. It is 
none the less true that the least blow given to a 
child, under the most trivial circumstances, should 
have the grave character of justice — never of passion. 
The child being pre-eminently a creature of routine, 
it is in itself a grievous' matter to him to have 
imposed upon him something abnormal ; and, on 
^ Authentic* 


the other hand, to be effectual, every chastisement 
should be abnormal, exceptional, and reserved for 
cases of open disobedience. The essentially excep- 
tional character of punishment makes it formidable, 
and may make it a powerful means of acting on 
the child^s mind. If scoldings and whippings are 
of daily occurrence, the child will get as accustomed 
to them as to sugar-plums, and that at the expense 
of his character. 

A moral colour must always be given to punish- 
ments. By provoking fear, punishment creates 
hypocrisy ; here then, again, we must not develop 
fear alone in the child, but moral remorse for having 
displeased his parents. Punishment should be merely 
a symbol; moral pain should be first blended with 
physical pain, and then substituted for it. Still less 
should two reprimands or punishments follow close 
on each other, whether for the same or different 
offences ; by doing this we exhaust the moral effect 
of the reprimand, and produce in the child the habit 
of being punished, which would be a deplorable 
result. When, a few moments after having been 
punished for a trivial offence, the child begins to 
“ sin ” again, it is better to close one's eyes to the new 
offence, or suddenly change one's tone. Especially 
when we anticipate a bad intention on the child's 
part, it is important to distract his attention, and thus 
nip the misdeed in the bud. We ought, in fact, to 
husband our reprimands as a soldier husbands his 
resources in time of war. Reprimand or punishment 
can never produce their moral effects at the moment 
of infliction ; they must have time to act before they 
can take their place among the habitual motives of 
the child. Pmtishment does not act by itself y but only 



whm transfigured in recollection* Time is an essential 
factor in the formation of child-morality, and the 
educator should not proceed by revolution, but rather, 
as nature does, by uniform evolution. 

No doubt the object is not to make little reasoners 
of children, and we have even seen that sometimes 
reasoning and the spirit of analysis should be dis- 
trusted ; but we must make children understand that 
a parents orders are always reasonable and capable 
of explanation, even when the explanation is beyond 
the grasp of the young mind. There ought thus to 
be associated with the natural affection and respect 
ot a child for its parents a perpetual vote of con- 
fidence in them ; they ought to know, once for all, 
that their parents only wish their good, and good 
in general. If, then, the art of education in the first 
place consists in forming good habits, it also consists, 
in the second place, in strengthening those habits 
by the consciousness and by the belief that they are 

Every recognised profession, every social status, 
may be psychologically defined as a totality of constant 
and co-ordinated suggestions which urge to action 

Further, ‘‘of all the errors in education the worst is inconsistency; 
just as, in a community, crimes multiply when there is no certain 
administration of justice, so in the family an immense increase of 
transgressions results from a hesitating application of rules and punish- 
ments.” “A weak mother,” says Spencer, “ who perpetually threatens 
and rarely performs — who makes rules in haste and repents of them at 
leisure— who treats the same offence, now with severity and now with 
leniency, as the passing humour dictates, is laying up miseries for 
herself and her children. She is making herself contemptible in their 
eyes. Better even a barbarous form of domestic government carried 
out consistently, than a humane one inconsistently carried out.” “ If,” 
says Jean Paul, “ the secret mental fluctuations of a large class of 
ordinary fathers were brought to the light of day, they would run some- 


conformably to an idea or general type present to the 
thought Suggestions springing from a profession 
may be detected in action in what M. Richet 
has called “ the objectivation of types,” by means of 
induced somnambulism. If a hypnotised subject 
thinks he has become a general, he will act as a 
general, assume a tone of authority, and no longer 
wish to recoil from danger ; he will draw his sword if 
accused of cowardice ; if transformed into a good 
citizen, he will act as a citizen, etc. Given any type 
whatever to be realised, all the secondary features of 
that type will be faithfully followed out in the repro- 
duction of it attempted by the subject ; his tone of 
voice, his gestures, and even his writing will undergo 
very appreciable modifications. So it is in life : our 
social status constantly suggests to us, in all circum- 
stances, and often even in spite of hereditary tenden- 
cies, the conduct appropriate to that status ; moreover, 
that is why a regular profession has always a greater 
moralising influence, because its suggestions are 
always accommodated to social life ; the absence of a 
profession at once deprives the individual of a whole 
class of social suggestions, and thus leaves him an 
easier prey to the influence of individual passions or 
hereditary inclinations. Not only a profession, but 

what after this fashion : In the first hour, * the child should be taught 
pure morality;* second hour, *the morality of expediency;* third hour, 
‘you do not see that your father does so and so;* fourth hour, ‘you 
are little, only grown-up people do that;* . . , seventh hour, ‘bear 
with injustice and have patience;* eighth hour, ‘but defend yourself 
bravely if any one attack you;* ninth hour, ‘dear child, do not make 
so much noise;* tenth hour, ‘a little boy ought not to sit still doing 
nothing.' ’* And Jean Paul reminds us of the harlequin who appeared 
on" the stage with a bundle of papers under each arm, and who answered 
when asked what was under his right arm— “orders,** and when asked 
what was under his left — “ counter-orders.** 

46 tebucATioN And heredity. 

even a uniform has an incomparable suggestive 
power, and legislators have, not without good reason, 
always attached much importance to the uniform. 
It is not mere childishness ; it is, so to speak, the 
profession itself, made visible to him who exercises it; 
it is a complete regulating principle of systematic 
action, made palpable in the cut of a garment. The 
habit does not make the monk, it is true ; but respect 
for the habit often counts for much in the conduct of 
the monk. There is one profession that is universal 
— the profession of man; one rdU is common to us all 
— the rdle of the social being; the idea of society and 
sociability must therefore be suggested from child- 
hood, and made a living idea, so that it may accom- 
modate to itself the whole being; the ideal of the 
existing human race must be raised above hereditary 
instincts, and gradually modify them in its own 
direction. Let the child have presented to its mind 
from the earliest period those words of Benjamin 
Constant, which sum up all non-egoistic life : “ The 
great thing to be considered is the pain we may cause 
to others.” Some sentiments are social, and others 
unsocial ; the former must be carefully developed, and 
the latter must be carefully suppressed. And un- 
sociability lies in embryo in certain mental states 
which are apparently of no serious import For 
example, very early in life, from eighteen months to 
two years old, every tendency to sulkiness in the 
child should be combated. Sulkiness is, in fact, 
nothing but a first manifestation of unsociability. 
The formula of sulkiness is : "A love of displeasing 
those who displease us.” Sometimes with sulkiness 
is joined a lethargy of the will, which, in the presence 
of another’s will, gives in, for fear of defeat, and 


much prefers confessing itself beaten to engaging in 
conflict. We must also habituate children to speedy 
reconciliation with the person who has reproved them. 
A child of three or four years of age, having com- 
mitted some peccadillo for which he was scolded, 
several times asked permission to embrace his mother, 
but the latter obstinately refused ; the child, in conse- 
quence, conceived such a feeling of rancour, that he 
acquired the habit of sulking every time he was 
afterwards scolded. Once more, we can only make a 
child obey by making him love ; and on the other 
hand, we can only make him love by making him 
obey when he is given a rational command. By 
letting the child get the habit of sulking, he acquires 
the habit of abiding by the fault he has committed 
without making any effort of reparation. He ex- 
periences, it is true, a vague sense of uneasiness, but 
this, in conjunction with the gratification of self-love, 
deprives him of all active remorse. On the other 
hand, if we never let a scolding pass without a rapid 
reconciliation and final kiss, the child will eventually 
be unable to bear the idea of being angry with any 
one ; he will feel he must atone for his offence, obtain 
pardon, and receive the kiss of reconciliation. Thus 
the educator himself may lay in the child's mind the 
foundations of that complex sentiment, active remorse 
— the need of atonement for a fault, of re-establish- 
ing the equilibrium of the friendship disturbed and 
fellowship compromised. 

Bad temper is another unsocial tendency — a 
tendency, moreover, which is depressing to the 
individual. Bad temper is a very complex mental 
state, which it is of great importance to overcome 
at an early age. It is relatively easy to repress 



this or that movement of anger, jealousy, or im- 
patience ; but with these may be blended a general 
sentiment of bad temper, which afterwards will 
assume countless forms and be betrayed in a hundred 
ways ; it will form a moral atmosphere surrounding 
the whole mind from which it will be very difhcult to 
emerge. A child thwarted unwisely and at every 
turn acquires in some measure a habit of melancholy; 
he gets a habit of wrapping himself up in himself, his 
heart big with his little grievances, and of turning 
them over in his mind ; later, it is to be feared, dis- 
couragement will have more effect upon him than 
upon others. Bad temper contains in embryo all the 
, derangements of those who have lost their mental 
equilibrium — derangements so acutely expressed in 
all our modern literature. It is a good thing to 
accustom children to the gaiety and solid good 
humour of those who have nothing to reproach them- 
selves or others with, who have, to use the popular 
phrase, “nothing on their minds.” A fund of gaiety 
which follows him through life, and which he has at 
his disposal in spite of every trial, is created for the 
child brought up in this way with indulgence and 
smiling affection. 

The happy child is more beautiful, more loving and 
lovable, more spontaneous, open, and sincere. His 
smile lights up all around him, and gives a deep and 

tranquil delight like that given by a newly-discovered 

As society is a reciprocal suggestion, the object we 
should pursue in society is the increase and not the 
dwarfing of the sentiments. Unfortunately the latter 
is &e r^ult whenever we are in prolonged contact 
with mediocre men. The society of averige men S 


precious to those whose intellectual and; above all, 
whose moral level is below the average ; but it is not 
without its inconveniences to those who are rather 
above it Accordingly, the dominating principle of 
education should be the choice of companions morally 
one’s superiors. We then develop in the right direc- 
tion that sentiment of solidarity so necessary to 
mankind. With a certain moral delicacy we may 
eventually feel ourselves as even having a part in 
the merits or demerits of others. “ The goodness of 
others should afford me as much pleasure as my 
own,” as Joubert said. The goodness of others must 
become our own from the very sense we have of its 

The principle of all disequilibration is perhaps moral 
and social Most disequilibrated minds ai*e wanting 
in altruistic sentiments ; by developing in them these 
sentiments, education and suggestion may be able to 
re-establish the internal equilibrium. One of the 
characteristic features of the criminal class is the total 
absence of pity.^ Now we cannot suppose that an 
appropriate education is unable to develop this senti- 
ment even in the most poorly endowed being, — in a 
more or less rudimentary degree perhaps, but enough 
to modify his conduct We may even at the bottom 
of every form of insanity discover a certain want of 
the social instinct, for a constant symptom in insanity 
is an exaggerated magnifying of self, an exclusive 
self-preoccupation. From extreme vanity to madness 
is often but a step. Now vanity or pride, the first of 
the deadly sins, is a form of unsocial egoism : the man 
whose altruistic sentiments are sufficiently developed 
appreciates at their true value the merits of others, 

* Ellis, The Criminal^ chap, iv,, sec. I, “ Moral insensibility.” (Tr.) 


and thus finds a counterpoise to his sense of personal 
merit. By moral and social suggestion we may even 
prevent the formation of the fixed idea in the mono- 
maniacs of crime and insanity — a fixed idea of which 
the elements for the most part combine from a very 
early period To know how to “moralise” men 
would be therefore the power of introducing equili- 
brium not only into their conduct, but also into their 
intellect, and into the inmost recesses of their being ; 
and this equilibrium is at the same time harmony 
with others — sociability. 

To sum up, suggestions, the mechanism of which 
is now occupying the attention of our physiological 
psychologists, are only isolated and curious cases of 
the action of the environment upon the individual, 
of percepts on the being who perceives them. These 
suggestions may, as we have seen, disequilibrate the 
organism, but they may also, though with more 
dijflSculty, restore its equilibrium. The influence of 
the social environment is a power henceforth too 
manifest for the most exclusive partisans of heredity, 
of hereditary crime and vice, of the inevitable decay 
of certain races, not to be compelled to take it into 
account. Hereditary tendencies are nothing but 
acquired habits — i,e., accumulated action ; it is the 
action of our ancestors which is now prompting us to 
action,, and which in certain cases disturbs our inner 
equilibrium. The corrective of the action thus 
capitalised is itself action, but in its living form, such 
as we see it in the environment that envelops us ; the 
corrective for the harmful consequences of heredity — 
of the solidarity of the race from which we spring 
— is our solidarity with the existing human race. 
The hereditary mechanism and the intellect react 


incessantly on each other ; they are two forces with 
which no one ought to be unacquainted : — 

Every individual^ by the series of acts constituting the 
framework of his life^ and ultimately co-ordinating 
themselves for his descendants . in hereditary habits^ 
exerts a moralising^^ or depraving influence over his 
posterity^ just as he has been moralised^^ or depraved 
by his ancestors. 



I. Power of JffabiiSt giving rise to a Momentary Imptilse or JPermanerz^ 
Obsession,^ — Habit and adaptation — Habit and heredity — Habit and tlx<e 
sense of the becoming — How habit may produce an impulse — How it 
may produce a permanent obsession and inward pressure — Suggestion, 
producing an obsession and a kind of obligation. 

II. Power of the Consciousness and of Idea-Forces, the Moral 

How the idea*force explains the two terms of the moral problem e 
volition and the object of the will — The active subject, the inora,l 
agent is constituted by a volition capable of acting by an effort to 
realise an idea. 

III. Power begetting Duty, — i. Existence of a certain duty created 
by the very power of action. 2. Existence of a certain duty created "hy 
the very conception of action — ^The normal human type. 3. Existence 
of a certain duty created by the increasing interfusion of sensibilities, 
and by the more and more social character of higher pleasures. 

IV. 77 ie Dissolution of the Moral Instinct. — Different degrees of* 
moral dissolution;— I. Negative morality. 2. Moral ataxia. 3. Moral 
insanity. 4. Moral idiocy. 5. Moral depravity. 

V. Heredity and Fducation in the Moral Sense. — Criticism of 

Spencer, Darwin, Wundt, and Ribot— Moral power of education Its 


I. The Power of Habits, giving rise to a Momentary 
Impulse or to a Permanent Obsession. 

We have seen, in the preceding chapter, how educa- 
tion and suggestion may modify the moral instinct 
which has become hereditary in our race. We now 
propose to ourselves a more fundamental and more 
theoretical problem : we ask ourselves if education 

> Vide p. S7. (Tr.) 



and suggestion, if ideas transformed into sentiments 
may not, with the aid of heredity, produce the moral 
sentiment itself. In a word, what is the share of 
heredity ? what is the share of ideas and education in 
the genesis of morality ? There is no study more apt 
to give us a deep insight into the two essential 
terms, in their union and in their antagonism, of the 
question which forms the problem of this work. 

Heredity and education alike create in us powers^ 
which tend to exercise themselves, and are in fact 
exercised when opportunity occurs. What then 
must be understood by the word power? It is an 
inward starting-point of activity in the individual, 
which is no longer a pure and simple reaction upon a 
shock initiated from without To feel within our- 
selves the power of action in this or that direction, is 
to feel ourselves organically pre-adapted to a certain 
environment, instead of having to adapt ourselves to 
it by a series of experiments requiring effort To 
speak of power, then, is to speak of a pre-established, 
constitutional adaptation, an aptitude ready to be 
awakened and translated into actions. Now every 
adaptation reduces to a habit of the individual or 
race. There is therefore no power coming into play 
in the individual which may not be explained by the 
property of habituating itself, possessed by all living 
matter and every species, and which is the very 
foundation of educability. We know that habit, on 
the other hand, reduces to a series of accumulated 
actions and re-actions, stored up so to speak, and 
facilitating in the future every action in the same 
direction. Power is therefore nothing but a kind of 
residuum left by past actions and re-actions; it is 
action, living and capitalised. For us the possible 



reduces in a great measure to a habit ; it is a deter- 
mination of the future by a more or less analogous 
past ; it is an inchoate adaptation. The possible is a 
suppressed realisation, which under certain conditions 
will tend to become actualised. 

In its origin, even in the most rudimentary being, 
every action is induced directly by a stimulus, or 
external shock. The spring of action is placed out- 
side the being, just as in those toys of which the arms 
and legs are only capable of motion on the pulling of 
a string. But as every .accomplished act has opened 
a way in the organs for the accomplishment of a 
similar act, action becomes spontaneously fertile, and 
tends to reproduce itself: it is a starting-point of 
fresh activity. This internal starting-point of activity, 
] habit, begets acts which are no longer the simple 
response to an immediate shock from without The 
primitive string pulling the arms of the puppet has 
become the mechanism of a very complicated piece 
of clock-work placed within it, and only needing to 
be wound up ab extra from time to time, owing to the 
stimulus of periodic necessities. Habit, having become 
an instinct in the race by heredity, modifies the being 
so as to accommodate it not only to the brutal present^ 
but to mere possibilities. This is a kind of uncon- 
scious prevision based upon an analogy between past 
and future. Hence proceeds a profound modification 
in the most rudimentary psychological phenomena, 
to which we can trace the beginnings of experi- 
ence: for the impact of a shock or sensation, are 
substituted promptings from the very depths of the 
being, urging it to action, without, so to speak, pre- 
cipitating it into action. The impetus of a sensation 
is thus prepared for, mitigated, and often avoided by 



the organisation of habits, by the much gentler 
and much more intelligent inward springs of a less 
suddenly imperative action. 

Now it is important to distinguish between two 
kinds of habit or adaptation to the environment : first, 
the adaptation of a passive being to an environment 
always the same — for instance, of a rock to the 
surrounding air, or of a plant to a given climate ; 
second, the adaptation of an active and moving being 
to an ever-varying environment — for instance, that of 
a man to the social environment — which is a real 
education. The first adaptation is made once for all ; 
it is passive, and may give rise in the being to new 
properties^ not to new powers^ or new activities. The 
second is always unfinished : it comprises a system of 
reactions which is always incomplete, without, how- 
ever, being entirely wanting ; it therefore urges to an 
action which is only automatic in its most general 
direction, but which, in detail, gives rise to a multitude 
of spontaneous and even self-conscious acts. Thus 
every habit of action, every active instinct, tends 
to awaken the intellect and activity, instead of 
entirely repressing them by automatism. Natural 
history might furnish us with an infinite number of 

There exists then, at the outset, a formless and 
obscure nisus of life, no doubt already endowed with 
a vague consciousness, and in every case with the 
faculty of habituating itself, identical with what has 
been called the organic memory. The first mani- 
festation of this more or less unconscious memory of 
the living molecule is reflex action. Reflex action con- 
stitutes a fixed formula in the fluctuating changes of 
life, an elementary but definitely-formed track in the 




education of the being, and in its complex adaptation 
to its environment 

When the reflex action is impeded or checked, it 
tends not merely to produce consciousness, but at the 
same time (and I do not think this simultaneity has 
received sufficient attention) pain and consciousness. 
Consciousness, in its origin, could only be due to 
the vague formulation of pain by a kind of inward 
cry; it is the solidarity of all the living atoms in 
presence of some danger, a kind of echo of peril 
within the being itself. Pain sets in motion all the 
activity at the disposal of the organism to repel the 
causes of derangement So, when the country is in 
danger, it is clear that all its members will display an 
activity directed towards a single purpose — an activity 
much greater than if it were merely a question of a 
national f^te. There is more solidarity of the organ- 
isation in pain than pleasure. Hence the utility of 
consciousness for the preservation of the individual, 
and hence, therefore, its increasing diffusion. The 
total consciousness no doubt is in its origin only a 
propagation and multiplication of different cellular 
consciousnesses in a tremor of alarm : it is not the calm 
self-inspection that psychologists have a tendency to 
represent it as being. Little by little, after a series 
of impeded reflex actions — of interrupted adapt- 
ations — is formed the power of constantly re-adapting 
oneself, of incessantly moulding oneself in conformity 
with one’s environment. It is this power of continuous 
re-adaptation, this habit of constantly re-habituating 
oneself, which is at once the basis of the intellect and of 
the volition properly so called, and which consequently 
is the main-spring of all education. Intellectual or 
moral activity is, so to speak, a broad and infinitely 


flexible adaptation, allowing a large number of re- 
adaptations in detail, and of corrections of every kind. 
In other words, intellectual and voluntary power 
reduces to a habit of acting in a certain general 
direction, — a habit continually transformed, following 
the particular transformations of the changing environ- 
ment in which it is exercised. 

These facts being established, what may be deduced 
concerning the genesis of morality, and what part in 
it is played by education in all its forms ? Let us 
first notice that even in the consciousness of the 
habit,” as such, there is already something moral 
or, at any rate, something sesthetic. In fact, 
beneath every moral or aesthetic concept is to be 
found as an essential element, the idea of order, 
arrangement, and symmetry. The aesthetic pleasure 
caused in us by order is explained by the pleasure of 
repetition (the repetition of certain movements of the 
retina, etc.) ; the repetition of an act, in its turn, is 
agreeable to us only from the facility attained — a 
facility springing from habit Orders then, reduces 
subjectively, in a great measure, to habit Similarly, 
the most elementary form of moral order is regularity, 
and in connection with others, reciprocity — te., the 
repetition of the same acts under the same circum- 
stances by one or several individuals. To be 
perfectly accustomed to a thing — that is to say, 
to perceive it without experiencing any resist- 
ance in any of our senses, and in any of our 
intellectual or motor activities — is almost tantamount 
to feeling it to be beautiful or good. Every habit 
begets a kind of personal rule : the act accomplished 
without resistance in the past becomes a type for 
action in future. Habit, in fact, is a force having a 


lin pre-determined direction ; it is therefore the 
re of a system of actions and sensations, and it 
nough for it to acquire self-consciousness to 
>me an active and controlling sentiment ; it is a 
Iment-force. The idea-force^ to which I will come 
marks a still higher degree of evolution. Habit, 
word, has a canonical and educative virtue; it 
le primitive rule of life. The becoming is in a 
,t measure the habitual. Every habit tends to 
>me a force imposing itself on things and beings, 
)rmula of action and personal education, an 
lanent law, lex insita. We may even ask if every 
including the laws of nature, does not reduce to 

eremony^ which is a higher development of habit, 
not merely a religious value ; it has also a moral 
e. Now, ceremony, as I have said elsewherCj 
ss from the need of reproducing the same act 
sr the same circumstances — a need which is the 
3 of habit, and without which life would be im- 
ible. Further, there is something sacred, to the 
litive man and the child alike, in every habit, 
tever it may be ; on the other hand, every 
)n, whatever it may be, tends to become a habit, 
hence to assume a venerable character — -in a 
sure to consecrate itself. Ceremony, then, from 
rigin, has to do with the very basis of life. The 
Liig for ceremony is very early manifested in the 
[ ; not only does it imitate, and imitate itself, 
at, and spontaneously repeat itself, but it exacts 
pulous accuracy in these repetitions. The child 
iturally curious, but it does not like to urge 
sity to the point where it might violently contra- 
ivhat it knows already, or thinks it knows. And 























is 1 
is < 







in a measure it is right ; it only obeys a powerful 
instinct of intellectual preservation : its intellect is 
not flexible enough to be perpetually tying or untying 
the knots or associations it establishes between its 
ideas. It is therefore by a kind of instinct of intel- 
lectual protection that primitive races attach so much 
importance to their customs and ceremonies. In the 
same way, all the acts of life, both the most insignifi- 
cant and the most important, are classed in the child's 
mind, rigorously defined according to a unique 
formula, and modelled on the type of the first act 
of the kind it has seen performed, without its clearly 
distinguishing between the reason and the form of an 
act. This confusion of reason and form exists in a 
no less striking degree among savages and primitive 
races; and it is upon this very confusion that the 
sacred character of religious ceremonies resist 

Once incarnate in the being, how does this inner 
law of habit manifest itself? I have shown in my 
Esqnisse d^mie Morale that the power of habit may 
give rise to a momentary impulse or to a permanent 

The power accumulated by habits, instincts, and 
mechanical associations, in many cases no sooner 
appears on the threshold of the consciousness than it 
is translated into actions. In these cases there is a 
sudden and momentary impulse. The impulse that 
meets with no obstacle — even that of delay in time — 
is only a kind of reflex actmi^ passing like a ray of 
light across the consciousness to afterwards re-enter 
the shade. No impulse, which is in this manner 
isolated by the rapidity of its action, is capable of 
eliciting the complex phenomena which constitute 

^ Vide Irreligion de V Avenir^ p. 92. 



moral life. It is a force which only momentarily 
gives rise to a conscious idea, and leaves no deep trace 
on the mind. The moral and social instinct, in its 
primitive and perfectly elementary form, is an expan- 
sion which has almost the suddenness of a reflex. It 
is a spontaneous impulse, a sudden unfolding of the 
inner life towards another, rather than a self-conscious 
respect for “ the moral law,” and a search for “ utility ” 
or “pleasure.” We must also notice that with the 
actual development of the human intellect and sen- 
sitiveness, it is impossible to discover the moral 
impulse in this state, bordering as it does on reflex 
action, apart from the intervention of general, racial, 
and indeed even metaphysical ideas. Hence, it is in 
the case of animals especially that we must with 
Darwin search for the moral and social impulse in its 
naked form. We may recall the instance of the 
baboon which, seeing a young monkey, six months 
old, surrounded by dogs and in a desperate situation, 
descends the mountain, throws itself into the pack in 
a genuine fit of madness, snatches the young monkey, 
and succeeds in carrying it off in triumph.^ 

The impulsive force of social tendencies is powerful 
enough to precipitate into action those who are habit- 
ually the most incapable, and whom the conscious 
sentiment of duty would find irresolute and impotent. 
M. Ribot quotes the case of a patient suffering from 
aboulia^ who found all his energies restored in trying 
to save an injured woman. ^ At other times the 

^ Vide Esquisse d^une Morale, 

® I may add that this patient was finally cured by the excitement - of 
the events of June 1848 — again an emotion of a social or at least ego- 
altruistic character, which shows the power of the social element in 
the individual. 



spontaneous sentiment of duty, instead of urging 
to action, suspends it abruptly ; it may then develop 
what Messrs. Maudsley and Ribot, with the physiolo- 
gists, would call a power of arrest or "inhibition,’* 
not less abrupt or violent than the power of impulse.^ 
And instinct shows its power still better by suspend- 
ing than by provoking action. In the second case 
there is nothing to overcome but the force of inertia 
proper to an organism in repose ; in the first case it 
has to strive against the force accumulated in a certain 
direction. Experiments on suggestion readily confirm 
this. It is very difficult in the waking state to per- 
suade a person that he cannot open his hand ; but if 
he has been previously asked to hold tightly an object 
in the closed hand, and if, profiting by this preliminary 
tension of the muscles, we suggest to him that he will 
be unable to open his hand, he will often find himself 
really unable to do so. 

M. Bernheim having met a subject who thought him- 
self capable of resisting his orders, even in the hypnotic 
state, told him to whirl his arms round, and asserted 
that he would be unable to stop ; and in fact he could 
not stop, and continued the gyratory motion of his 
arms, like that of the sails of a windmill.^ 

In my Esquisse d^une Morale I quoted a case of 
sudden arrest of action produced by the sentiment of 
duty, blended with sympathy and gratitude. " A man, 
with a resolute intention of drowning himself, throws 
himself into the Seine, near the Pont d’Arcole. A 
workman leaps into a boat to save him, but being an 
unskilful oarsman, the boat is dashed against a pier 
of the bridge, capsizes, and the would-be saviour 

^ Vide, Esquisse d^une Morale. 

* Moll, Hypnotism^ p. 6i. (Tr.) 


disappears beneath the surface just when the would- 
be suicide comes to the top again. The latter incon- 
tinently abandons his intention of suicide, swims to his 
rescuer, and lands him safe and sound on the bank.** 
A similar occurrence more recently took place between 
two dogs — a Newfoundland and a mastifif — who fell 
into the sea in the midst of a furious fight on the jetty 
at Donaghadee. Immediately the instinct of rescue 
was awakened in the Newfoundland; quickly forget- 
ting his anger, he brought his adversary to the bank. 
But for this the latter, being a poor swimmer, would 
have inevitably been drowned. 

We must remember that certain instincts in animals 
possess the same power of suspending an act begun. 
Hhjt pointer^ for instance, seems, so to speak, nailed to 
his place, as if by a mysterious command, just when 
all his other instincts lead him to bound forward. 
Romanes tells of a dog which had only stolen once in 
its life : — One day when very hungry he seized a 
cutlet and carried it off under the sofa. I saw this, 
but pretended not to have seen anything, and the 
culprit remained under the sofa a few minutes, divided 
between the longing to assuage his hunger and the 
sentiment of duty ; finally the latter triumphed, and 
the dog came and laid at my feet the cutlet he had 
stolen. Having done this he returned to his hiding 
place, whence no blandishments could induce him to 
issue. In vain I gently patted his head ; my caresses 
only made him hang down his head with an irresistibly 
comic air of contrition. What gives peculiar value to 
this instance is, that the dog had never been beaten, 
so that the fear of corporal punishment cannot have 
made him act in this way. I am therefore compelled 
to see in these actions instances of a development of 



the consciousness as elevated as the logic of sentiment 
can give rise to without the logic of signs — in a 
degree almost as high as we find in the lower savages, 
little children, and a large number of idiots, or unedu- 
cated deaf mutes,”^ 

The social instinct, by the force of natural selection, 
eventually permeates so thoroughly the whole being in 
all its parts, that, if we cut an ant in two, the head and 
upper half of the body, which can still walk, continue 
to defend the ant-hill, and to carry off the females to a 
place of safety. This is a degree of spontaneous im- 
pulse which human morality has not yet reached. 
For this, every fragment of the social self would have 
to live and die for others, our life would have to be 
blended, even in its deepest springs, with the social 
life in its entirety. 

The impulsive action of an hereditary or acquired 
habit assumes a more and more remarkable character 
when it takes the form, no longer of an impulse or 
sudden restraint, but of an inward prompting or 
persistent tension. This is obsession. Obsession is 
the perception of the effort with which an impulse 
enters into the field of consciousness, maintains itself 
there by trying to subordinate to itself the other 
tendencies it encounters in that field, and seeks to 
prolong itself in action. 

There are two chief starting-points of mental 
obsession : habit (or instinct, which is an hereditary 
habit) and suggestion (conscious in voluntary imita- 
tion and obedience, unconscious in the phenomena of 
hypnotism). Obsession — an impulse persisting 
in the midst of internal obstacles — is an important 
element which will enter at a later stage into the 
^ Vide the collection of instances in Animal Intelligence^ c. xvi, (Tr.) 


very complex phenomena of obligation. The marked 
distinction between them is due to the fact that 
obsession may have nothing rational in it, may urge us 
to acts repugnant at once to all our logic and all our 
sentiments. Obsession may be perfectly irrational, as 
in the case of the insane and maniacs. We should 
notice that wherever it is produced it always endeavours 
to become rational, to explain itself to itself^ to insinu- 
ate itself surreptitiously into the main current of ideas 
which is continually passing through the mind. This 
is why mad people always have in reserve more or 
less plausible explanations of their most extraordinary 
acts, even of their irregular gestures, as in the case of 
the madman who explained the nervous agitation of 
his arms by asserting that he was weaving sunbeams 
to make himself a garment of light Cases of hypnotic 
suggestion are pre-eminently able to furnish us with 
the most striking instances of the fertility of the 
intellect when an act in which reason has had no play 
has to be justified on rational grounds.^ We know 
the case of the somnambulist who had been told 
during sleep to come to the magnetiser at a certain 
hour on a certain day. On the appointed day she 
arrives at his house in the midst of a dreadful thunder* 
storm, and as she can recall nothing of the imperative 
order she has unconsciously obeyed, she finds a whole 
series of plausible reasons to explain her visit We 
may say that there is nothing so suggestive to the 
intellect as an instinct which has not its origin in it 
Manifesting itself in the form of a fixed idea, before 
long it constitutes an intellectual centre, around which 
all the ideas crystallise and group themselves in the 
most unexpected relations. 

^ Moll, Hypnotism^ p. 152. (Tr.) 



A person she mortally hates is mentioned to Miss 
X. when in the somnambulist state; her anger is 
aroused, and she says she will never forgive her. 
After a few moments’ exposure to magnetic influence, 
her face expresses compassion ; the action of the 
magnet, while modifying the functional activities of 
the nervous system, has modified the course of con- 
comitant emotions, and the new emotions are straight- 
way formulated in this moral theory : “ Poor wretch,” 
she cries, ‘‘ she did me a bad turn because he loved 
me too much. I cannot really hate her.”^ 

As Dr. Bernheim points out, susceptibility to sug- 
gestion is nothing but an aptitude for the transfor- 
mation of idea into action.^ Many experimenters 
record the state of anguish into which the hypnotised 
subjects fall when the time for acting out a sug- 
gestion arrived This anguish may be explained 
by two causes. The first is the very search for the 
object suggested ; they know they have something to 
do, but what ? An effort has to be made to draw 
from the depths of the unconscious the formula of 
obligation they feel within them. The second cause 
is that, even when the obligation is clearly formulated, 
they are in the presence of an action not habitual to 
them, or which is contrary to established ideas, which, 
in fact, presents something peculiar ; and suggestions 
always have this character, since by their very oddity 
the experimenter recognises his power. 

From the preceding we may conclude that every 
formula of activity which is obsessive in character, and 
which consequently monopolises the field of con- 
sciousness, tends to become, in this relation, a formula 

^ Rffvue Philosophiqtte^ February 1887, Bianchi and Sommer* 

® What about suggested hallucinations, etc*? (Tr.) 



of obligatory action; all obsession strives to develop 
into an obligation on its emergence into conscious- 
ness; the rude mechanism of the impulses tends to 
organise itself in a mental and, up to a certain point, 
a moral order. 

II, The Power of the Consciousness and Idea-Forces^ 
the Moral Agent, 

The force of the idea simultaneously explains the 
two terms of the moral problem : the volition and the 
object of the will. The volition is essentially the 
power of simultaneously representing to oneself, 
before the action, all the contrary motives to action 
or inaction, by elicting from this complexity of 
motives not the state of indecision, but the perfectly 
self-conscious resolve ; the impulsive force of motives 
thus appears proportional to their rational character, 
and thus the volition is the germ of morality 
itself. In the well-organised being is created, to use 
a happy expression of M. Ribot, a series of corrective 
states of consciousness, depressive in character, which 
are indissolubly associated with states of con- 
sciousness of which the consequences would be 
harmful ; thus, for instance, the desire to touch, 
awakened in the child by the brilliancy of the flame, 
is habitually associated with the fear of being burnt — 
a depressive state which eventually annihilates the 
prompting of the desire. 

The Buddhist or Christian monks used to say that 
if a beautiful body excited in them an unhealthy 
desire, the thought of that body as the corpse it 
was soon to be was enough to cure them. This is 
an example of a depressive state of consciousness 


associated with an impulse. A being is capable of 
education and morality, in proportion as it is capable 
of volition, in proportion as there are operative within 
it, in endlessly increasing complexity, those associa- 
tions which bring into consciousness an almost 
simultaneous survey of all the possible effects of an 
act. If, with M. Ribot, volition is defined as the 
reaction of the whole individual character in a given 
case, we must conclude that an act is only really 
voluntary if with the strongest tendency that pro- 
duced it coexist weaker and duller tendencies which, 
under other circumstances, might have produced a 
contrary act A complete volition — z>., the total 
evolution of internal energies — presupposes that to the 
representation of the act itself is presently associated 
the weakened representation of the contrary act 
And then we reach this conclusion : There is no 
completely voluntary act — or what comes to the 
same thing, no completely conscious act — which is 
not accompanied by the sense of victory of certain 
internal tendencies over others, and, consequently, 
of a possible struggle betwee^i these tendencies, and 
therefore of a possible struggle against them. 

Liberty pre-eminently consists in deliberation. 
Choice is only free if it has been deliberate ; we must 
look for the real principle of liberty behind the mere 
act of decision in that period of examination which 
precedes it, and in which the intellect is brought into 
full play. Now deliberation, far from being incom- 
patible with determinism, cannot be understood 
without it; for a deliberate action is one for which 
one can fully account, and is therefore entirely 
determinate. There is no liberty apart from 
deliberation ; and, on the other hand, deliberation 



consists simply in the determining influence of the 
best motive elicited by a rational process. To be free 
is to have deliberated ; to have deliberated is to have 
submitted to, to have been determined by, real or 
apparent motives. It seems, then, that deliberation 
is the point at which liberty and determinism are 
fused. Why do we deliberate ? to be free. How do 
we deliberate? Through a balancing of the motive 
forces inherent in feelings^ and ideas which operate by 
a necessary mechanism. But why do we wish to be 
free? I answer, because we have learned by experi- 
ence that liberty is a thing practically advantageous 
for us as for others. Liberty, like all accumulated 
power, derives value from its possible consequences. 

We must notice that, under certain conditions, 
fatality, the grossest form of slavery, cannot fail to 
assume the appearance of liberty. If a dog were held 
in the leash by a master who wished to go exactly 
where the dog wished, and as quickly as it wished, 
the dog would fancy itself perfectly free. A fish in a 
globe of water, and perpetually attracted to the centre 
of the globe by a tit-bit, or for some other reason, 
would not have the least idea it was confined by the 
vessel. How, then, should we fail to believe ourselves 
free, being as we are in a position infinitely superior 
to that of the dog or fish? No one, of course, holds 
us in leash or in prison ; our slavery only consists in 
doing exactly what seems good to us ; we only obey 
our preference, — whatever pleases us most. Add to this 
that no one can ever foresee with absolute certainty 
^ It seems difficult to find simple words completely expressing mobile 
or motif. The mobiles are se?itiments, passiom^ etc., influencing the 
volition — are emotional. The motifs are ideas influencing the 
volition — i,e,j are intellectual, A mobile is initiation of action by 
feeling, A motif is initiation of action by ideas or eftds in view, (Tr.) 


what we will prefer to-morrow, which is easily 
explained by the perpetual variation of our motives. 
Each of them, being a thought, is really a living 
being, which is born, grows, and decays within a 
few moments. All this is enacted within us. Hence 
we believe our liberty absolute and indeterminate, 
because of the infinite number of motives which 
determine us. And we are satisfied within the limits 
in which we are. When Christopher Columbus 
landed in America, he thought he had discovered a 
continent : it was only an island, but the natives had 
never experienced a desire to explore it completely ; 
they therefore thought it extended indefinitely. This 
infinity of motives prevents all fixed equilibrium, 
and forbids all prevision on the part of the external 
observer. As far as we are concerned, to end this 
struggle of motives, all we want is a mere desire ; nay, 
further, the mere thought of this desire is enough. 
An action conceived as possible is ipso facto of itself 
sufficient to give us the power of realising it. We 
can never, therefore, conceive of an action as impos- 
sible, for the mere conception of that action makes it 
possible; hence we are necessarily free in our own 
eyes. We may always wish for what appears to us 
more desirable than anything else, precisely because 
it appears to us as such ; and we shall therefore 
never feel our chains. Thus is produced the delusion 
of free will, — a lower degree of freedom. Certain 
desires and passions, even when we willingly follow 
them, show us only too clearly that it would be 
difficult to act otherwise ; — e.g.^ love and hatred. We 
abandon ourselves to these passions, and feel they are 
our masters. Running down a rapid slope, and really 
wishing to run down, we cannot say we do not wish 


to run down, although we feel ourselves impelled 
forward and mastered by a stronger force. That is 
how passion acts. That is why a more complete 
liberty appears to be deliverance from violent and 
coarse passions. Liberty of action is above liberty 
of desire. Reason alone can suspend its own action 
in time, can alone ignore habit, — the acquired force. 
That is why reason and liberty are identical. 

If now we notice, with M. Ribot, that the dis- 
tinctive characteristic of the voluntary act is that it is 
not the simple transformation of a detached state of 
consciousness, and that on the contrary it presupposes 
the participation of the whole group of conscious or 
sub-conscious states which constitute the individual at 
a given movement, we shall conclude that the very 
idea of such an act, of an act in which our whole 
being participates, is the idea which will beset the 
consciousness with most force, because it is blended, 
so to speak, with the whole consciousness. The idea 
of a voluntary act is therefore by its very definition 
the idea-force^ which possesses most practical power 
in our consciousness. 

Every idea being the representation of a possibility 
of action or sensation (the sensation itself may be 
resolved into an action), it follows that the group of 
conscious or sub-conscious states that constitute the 
ego is nothing but the shifting equilibrium of repre- 
sentations of action^ to which corresponds an impulsive 
force, roughly proportional to the force of the repre- 
sentation itself. Our ego is but an approximation, a 
kind of permanent suggestion. It does not exist, it 
is in the process of making, it will never be complete. 
* We shall never succeed in reducing to complete unity, 
^ For “ Idea- Force,” vide Preface. 



in subordinating to a thought or central volition, all 
the systems of ideas and tendencies which are strug- 
gling within us for existence All life is a deforma- 
tion, a disequilibration — seeking, it is true, a new 
shape and new equilibrium. Those patients whose 
personality is doubled or even trebled^ show us, in 
an exaggerated form, the phenomenon constantly 
going on within us — the coexistence of several 
centres of attraction in our consciousness, of several 
currents crossing the field of consciousness, each of 
which currents, if not limited by another, would sub- 
merge us and carry us away. Our ego is only a line 
of division between the different currents of thought 
and action which pass through us. In the depths of 
each of us there are more selves than one, whose 
shifting equilibrium constitutes what we imagine is 
our real self ; which is, in fact, only our past 
self; the figure traced by the mean resultant of 
our antecedent actions and thoughts, the shadow we 
cast behind us as we pass through life. This ego 
is only ours in so far as our past determines our 
future ; and there is nothing more variable than this 
determination of the future of a being by its past. It 
is true that our body serves us as a centre of reference; 
it is the basis of our personality. But the body itself 
is for us only a system of perceptions, and therefore 
of sensations, which, from a deeper point of view, 
reduce to a system of favoured or thwarted tendencies. 
Our body is constituted by a co-ordination, in unstable 
equilibrium, of every kind of appetite ; it is only the 
rhythm according to which these appetites axe balanced. 
Without the law of habit and of economy of force, by 
which a being is always tending to repeat itself, to 

* Mercier, Sanity and Insanity (Walter Scott), pp. 3^7"3®9- 



project the image of itself into the coming time, to 
reproduce its past in its future, our ego would be lost 
in each of our movements — we should be constantly 
losing ourselves. Our ego is therefore an idea^ 
and an “ idea-force which maintains our identity — 
though that identity is incessantly threatening to. 
disappear into peculiar and present phenomena; it 
is a regular grouping of conscious or sub-conscious 
possibilities. What we call a state of repose, is the 
moment when these possibilities are in equilibrium. 
Action is a disturbance of that equilibrium, and as 
every such .disturbance requires an effort, the possi- 
bility which is victorious must first triumph over a 
certain resistance before the machine is set in motion. 
We feel this resistance, and that is why the beginning 
of every voluntary action has something painful in it. 
At the same time, every voluntary effort, as such, is a 
germ of moral energy, an education, a beginning of 
moral character in the subject, abstraction being made 
from the object to which it is directed. 

To properly realise the most elementary part of 
moral energy, we must carry ourselves back to primi- 
tive man, incapable of any voluntary process, of any 
tension of the will which is not the mechanical ex- 
pansion produced by a momentary need — incapable, 
in fact, of any kind of intellectual attention. For 
such a man the action not immediately demanded by 
a need, requiring a certain share of reflection, calcula- 
tion, or consecution of ideas, becomes after a fashion 
meritorious. Every act which in its initial stage is 
a thought or sentiment, instead of being a simple 
answer to a brute sensation, everything which is 
raised above a simple reflex action, ipso facto aissumes 
a moral character. The Turk, with his oriental 


inertia, in the eyes of the moralist will have some 
merit when he repairs a house that is tumbling into 
ruins, when he fills up the ruts in front of his door, or 
when he hastens his leisurely gait to help another, — 
even from some motive of self-interest A fortiori^ 
the primitive man will have displayed a rudimentary 
moral energy in the construction of his first hut, or in 
fashioning his first tools. When premeditated and 
organised action begins — action willed in its successive 
stages — some element of art, morality, and personal 
education is already shown. This is because, when 
the will pursues an end, immediately the sense of 
effort of resistance to overcome arises, and because 
the first act of morality was effort intentionally sus- 
tained, — ^the active and painful realisation of any idea, 
however naive and elementary it may have been. The 
function — at once the deepest and simplest — of moral 
life is to realise in this way an idea or sentiment by a 
self-conscious effort 

If every self-conscious action requires a certain 
effort or a certain tension of the will to disturb 
internal equilibrium, and if it thereby presents a 
moral character, it is no longer so when we act in 
consequence of an immediate need, and still less so 
when this need is of the most definite, pressing, and 
present character — as, for instance, hunger and thirst 
The inner equilibrium is disturbed, to start with, by 
suffering, by a discomfort to which action alone serves 
as a remedy. At this stage, action is no longer the 
result of an inward and self-conscious tension, but 
rather the result of a spontaneous expansion ; the 
action bursts into being of itself, just as we are sub- 
ject to a burst of laughter or tears. Hence it follows 
that we act without the sense of effort On the other 


educati6n and heredity, ' 

hand, the sense of the effort necessary to commence 
an action increases in proportion to the ill-defined 
and indistinct character of the need requiring the 
action. This is why, in the early days of weaning, a 
real effort and a first step in education are required in 
order that the child may begin to take the nourish- 
ment offered it It experiences a need that is very 
real, which is not yet associated in any definite 
manner with this or that food, specified by sensations 
of taste ; the need remains an indeterminate suffering, 
and the child is disposed to passively await the cessa- 
tion of that suffering ; it cries and does not know it is 
hungry, sometimes even it rebels against the effort of 
mastication and deglutition. It is only by a series of 
experiments, adaptations, and associations, by a more 
or less tardy education, that all physical suffering in 
the living being, combining at once with the repre- 
sentation of its remedy, becomes the immediate 
spring of this or that determined action. All pain, 
therefore, tends to become only the translation into 
sensible language of a possibility or necessity of 
action ; hunger is the possibility and necessity of 
eating ; thirst, the possibility and necessity of drink- 
ing ; as soon as the animal has felt the need, it sets 
to work to find the remedy. The disturbance of 
equilibrium in the inward energy begins with the 
sensation- itself, and the sense of the need of action 
suppresses the sense of the effort involved. 

Accordingly desire must not be confounded with duty. 
There are two kinds of desires — the desire of enjoy- 
ment and the desire of action. The first results in the 
clear representation of an external object, with refer- 
ence to which the moral agent is in a state of passivity; 
the second results in the representation of a state of 


inward tension, of an action or group of actions 
depending on the moral subject Although, at 
bottom, there is always partial passivity within us, 
it increases when we are a prey to any desire ; it 
decreases, on the other hand, when we feel ourselves 
urged forward by the consciousness of a duty — 
i,e.y by an active idea of a higher order, which opens 
for itself a way through the environment of internal 
or external resistances. The very enjoyment of a 
duty is aesthetically quite different from all other 
enjoyments ; its serious character is its distinctive 
mark to the impartial observer, and this character 
may certainly place it, in the case of many people, 
outside the reach of everyday life. This or that noble 
piece of classical music, for example, will exert no 
attraction on men whose musical taste is little 
developed. Morality, it might be said, is the serious 
music of existence ; a certain education is necessary 
before an exclusive appreciation of its charms can be 
reached, before the sublime rhythm of the morally 
beautiful is preferred to the trivial dance airs we hear 
everywhere around us on our way through life. 

Every time an inward tendency is awakened and 
revealed to itself by the presence of an external 
object, it seems to lose in force of internal tension all 
that it gains in force arising from external representa- 
tion and solicitation. The moral good itself seems to 
change its nature when we bring before our minds the 
luxury of doing good : it then appears that we are 
rather persuaded than obliged to do good. It is in the 
effort and slowness with which the inward equilibrium 
is disturbed that we really obtain consciousness of 

Between the desire of action and the desire of 



enjoyment is the same difference as between the ten- 
dency urging the true artist to produce a work of his 
own and the desire an amateur may experience to go 
and hear the work of another. The desire of action 
is one of the elements of duty; and, on the other hand, 
duty generally excludes the desire of enjoyment It 
has been said that the moral will is the power of 
acting along the line of greatest resistance. That is 
true, provided we add that the power thus revealed is 
greater than the said resistance. In other words, the 
moral subject is constituted by a will capable of 
acting with effort to realise an ideal. Thus, in the 
normal state the sense of obligation should be 
proportional to the capacity a man possesses of 
making an internal effort, or, in other words, of 
being led by the force of an idea — for volition is 
thought with a certain consecution of ideas. The 
sense of obligation, on the contrary, diminishes in 
direct ratio with the weakness of the will: feeble 
characters, incapable of this tension and fatigue that 
every resistance to the first impulse necessitates, are 
therefore those who will feel the least remorse, or in 
whom remorse will be least adapted to produce its 
corrective and educative effects. To sum up — to feel 
ourselves under an obligation, we must feel ourselves 
capable of sustaining an inward struggle : it is the 
consciousness of a force which is also a thought, 
the consciousness of a logic working itself out, 
the consciousness of an internal command. Every 
idea which reaches the threshold of the conscious- 
ness only penetrates it and maintains its position 
by a kind of restraint exercised upon other ideas. 
Thus consciousness itself is the result of a struggle : 
as the physiologists have shown, it corresponds 


to a movement which maintains and propagates 
itself in spite of all obstacles. Every conscious- 
ness is a spontaneous choice, a natural selection, and 
that is precisely why it will be the moral idea which 
will some day suppress all others. From the action 
which is accumulated by habit, and which becomes 
reflex, springs fresh power of action ; from this power 
spring simultaneously consciousness and morality, 
the thought of power and of duty : every idea enfolds 
the germ of a duty. Each thinking and willing being 
has already within him, because he thinks and wills, 
a primary element of morality which will be fixed and 
organised by education and evolution : it constitutes 
a moral subject. 

It follows that the basis of education is to develop 
the will, and ipso facto to form a subject capable of 
morality. We are too much led to judge children’s 
actions objectively, to measure them by our rules, by 
our precepts, and our own ideals. The child's ideal 
cannot be and ought not to be so developed ; we 
must therefore pay special attention to the force of 
will displayed by the child, to its self-control, to its 
power of internal resistance. This or that mark of 
will, which thwarts us, puts us out, or wounds us, may 
be in reality the mark of internal and subjective 
progress. Energy must be stored up before it can be 
discharged in the proper direction. The genesis of 
morality is pre-eminently the genesis of the will ; its 
education ought to be the reinforcement of the will ; 
the will develops its own activity as it apprehends its 
own powers. 



III. Power Begetting Duty, 

Let us now proceed from the moral subject to the 
object In my opinion, it is the subject itself which 
after a fashion creates its object for itself, in the sense 
that the consciousness of a higher power produces of 
itself the consciousness of a duty. To prove this, let 
us look at the question, as I have done in my Esquisse 
(Tune Morale^ from the triple point of view of the will, 
the intellect, and the sensibility. 

1st Duty is the consciousness of a certain internal 
power ^ superior in character to all other powers. To 
be inwardly aware that one is capable of doing some- 
thing greater is ipso facto to have the dawning 
consciousness that it is one’s duty to do it Duty, 
from the point of view of facts and apart from 
metaphysical notions, is a superabundance of life 
requiring exercise and development ; it has hitherto 
been too often interpreted as the sense of a necessity 
or restraint I think I have shown in my Esquisse 
d*une Morale that it is pre-eminently the sense of a 
power, “All force which is accumulating creates 
pressure against the obstacles in its way ; all power, 
considered by itself, produces a kind of obligation 
proportional to it: power to act is duty to act 
Among inferior beings whose intellectual life is 
checked and stifled there are few duties ; but it is 
because there are few powers. Civilised man has 
innumerable duties, because he has a wealth of 
activity to expend in countless ways.”^ And not 
merely duty, but even the will is largely reducible to 
the consciousness of a possible self. If will is power, it 
is because the will is referable to a belief that we have 
^ Vide Esquisse gune Morale, 


the power, and because belief is a beginning of action. 
The will itself is thus an action at its initiation. 

From this point of view, which has nothing of the 
mystical about it, I have reduced moral obligation to 
that great law of nature : Life can only be maintained 
by development. It has been objected that the fecun- 
dity of our various internal powers may be as amply 
satisfied in conflict as in harmony with others, in the 
suppression as well as in the helping upward of other 
personalities. But in the first place it is forgotten 
that the others are not so easily suppressed ; the will 
which seeks to impose itself on others necessarily 
meets with resistance. Even if it triumphs over that 
resistance, it cannot do so single-handed ; it must fall 
back upon the assistance of allies, and thus constitute 
a social combination, and, in view of this friendly 
combination, impose upon itself the very slavery 
from which it wished to free itself with respect to 
other men, its natural allies. Every struggle, there- 
fore, always issues in an external limitation, and in 
the second place in an internal alteration of the will. 
The violent man stifles all the sympathetic and 
intellectual side of his being — i.e., all in him that is, 
from the evolution point of view, most complex and 
elevated. Brutalising others, he more or less brutalises 
himself. Violence, which thus seems to be a victorious 
expansion of the inward power, ends by restricting it; 
to set before our will the abasement of others as an 
end, is to set before it an insufficient aim, and to 
impoverish our own being. In fact, by a final and 
deeper disorganisation, the will proceeds to completely 
and spontaneously disequilibrate itself by the use of 
violence ; when, as in the case of despots, it is not 
accustomed to meet with opposition from without. 



every impulse becomes irresistible in it; the most 
contradictory tendencies then succeed one another; 
complete ataxia ensues ; the despot becomes a child 
again, he gives himself up to the most contradictory 
caprices, and his objective omnipotence eventually 
brings on what is really subjective impotence. 

If this be so, internal fecundity and fertility ought 
to be the first aim of moral education, of what the 
Germans call culture. This is what makes education 
so superior to instruction. Education creates living 
forces ; instruction directs them. 

2nd. Just as the power of activity involves a kind 
of natural obligation or imperative impulse, so the 
intellect has in itself a motive power. When we rise 
to a sufficiently high level, we may find ends of action 
which no longer operate merely as feelings, but which, 
in themselves and by themselves, without the direct 
intervention of the sensibility, are motive principles of 
activity and life. The will as a whole is at bottom 
nothing but inward power in operation, action in 
embryo. The wish to do good, if sufficiently conscious 
of its own force, need not therefore wait for grace from 
without : it is its own grace ; in the nascent stage it 
was already efficacious ; nature, by willing, creates. 

Here again the important theory of idea-forces 
may be applied. Every power felt within us has a 
point of application ; I can do anything possible^ and 
among possibilities those which appear to me most 
rational and desirable are ideals^ idea-forces;^ our 
ideal is only the projection, the objectifying of our 
inner power, the form it assumes for the self-conscious 

^ Vide A. Fouill^e, Critique des Sysihnes de Morale Contemporaine 
(second edition). 



Among the most powerful idea-forces we first find 
that of the nortnal human type, an aesthetic and moral 
idea, which is no more difficult to acquire than that 
of the tree or animal for instance, and which, once 
acquired, tends to actualise itself in us. Further, as 
we live in a community, we conceive more or less 
distinctly a nortnal social type. In fact, from the very 
function of all society — as of every organism — is dis- 
engaged the vague idea of what is normal, healthy, 
and conformable to the general direction of social 

Our temperament, through the countless oscillations 
of evolution, tends however to always accommodate 
itself more and more to the environment in which we 
live, to ideas of sociability and morality. The thief, 
mentioned by Maudsley, who took such pleasure in 
stealing, even if he were worth millions, is a kind of 
social monster, and of this he ought to be vaguely 
conscious when comparing himself with almost any 
other man. To be completely happy he would have 
to meet with a community of monsters like himself, 
and in their turn presenting to him his own image. 
Although remorse has an entirely empirical origin, the 
very nature of the mechanism producing it is rational; 
it tends to favour normal — i.e., social and, in a word, 
moral beings. 

The anti-social being is as much sundered from the 
type of moral man as the hunchback from the type 
of physical man ; hence arises the inevitable shame 
we experience when we feel anything anti-social 
within us ; hence also our desire to stamp out this 
monstrosity. We see the importance of the idea of 
nonnality in the idea of morality. There is something 
offensive to thought and sensibility alike in being a 



monstrosity, in not feeling oneself in harmony with 
all other beings, in not being able to contemplate 
ourselves in them, or re-discover them in ourselves. 
The idea of absolute responsibility being no longer 
tenable in the present state of science, remorse reduces 
to regret — regret at being inferior to one’s own ideal, 
at being abnormal, and more or less monstrous. 
We cannot feel some inward imperfection without an 
accompanying sense of shame — shame independent 
of the sentiment of liberty, but already the germ of 
remorse. To my own thought as judge, I answer in 
a certain measure for all the bad in me, even when 
I myself did not put it there, because my thought 
judges me. Besides, monstrosity produces the sense 
of absolute and definite solitude^ which is most painful 
to an essentially social being, because solitude is a 
moral sterility, an incurable impotence. 

In these days remorse may sometimes torment the 
hearts of men in proportion to their very elevation 
and the scruples of a higher conscience ; but this is 
the exception and not the rule. Exceptions are 
explained by the fact that moral, like all other pro- 
gress, tends to disturb the equilibrium between the 
being and its environment ; all premature superiority 
then becomes a cause of suffering ; but this provisional 
disturbance of the primitive equilibrium will some day 
issue in a more perfect equilibrium. The beings whose 
lot it is to serve as transitions in nature suffer in order 
that the total sufferings of the race may be diminished 
— they are the scape-goats of the species. They 
bring us nearer the still distant time — the ideal 
limit, impossible of complete attainment — when the 
sentiments of sociability, having become the very 
basis of every being, would be powerful enough to 



proportion the quality and quantity of its internal 
pleasures to its morality, which again is identical 
with its sociability. The individual consciousness 
would then so exactly reproduce the social conscious- 
ness that every action capable of deranging the latter 
would derange the former in the same ratio; every 
shadow cast outside of us would be projected on us ; 
the individual would feel the life of society as a whole 
in his own heart. In a word, we think of the species^ 
we think of the conditions under which life is possible 
to the species^ we conceive the existence of a certain 
fiomial type of man adapted to these conditions, we 
even conceive of the life of the whole species as adapted 
to the worlds and in fact the conditions under which 
that adaptation is maintained. On the other hand, 
our individual intellect being nothing but the human 
race — and even the world — become conscious in us, it 
is the race and the world which tend to act by us. In 
the mirror of thought every beam radiated by things 
is transformed into a movement We know the 
perfection to which the pendulum has been recently 
brought, so that each of its tiny and almost imper- 
ceptible oscillations are self-registered ; at each tick 
a ray of light passes through it ; this ray is trans- 
formed into a force and presses a spring ; the motion 
of the pendulum, without losing any force by friction, 
is then betrayed to the eyes by other movements, is 
fixed by visible and permanent marks. This is a 
symbol of what is going on in the living and thinking 
being, in which the rays sent by the universe of 
objects pass through the thought to register 
themselves in acts in which each of the oscilla- 
tions of individual life leaves behind it a reflex 
of the universal ; life, tracing out in time and space 



its own internal history, traces out in time and 
space the history of the world, thereby indirectly 

Once conceived, the type of possible normal man 
is actualised more or less in us. From the purely 
mechanical point of view, we have seen that the 
possible is but an elementary adaptation to an environ- 
ment which permits us, as the mean resultant of a 
certain number of modifications, to re-adapt ourselves 
to other slightly varying environments. From the point 
of view of the consciousness, the possible is the sense 
of analogy in circumstances which calls for analogous 
acts; thus the intelligent man conceives his possible 
line of conduct to others ex analogia with his own 
conduct towards himself ; he thinks he can assuage 
another's hunger in the same way as his own, etc. 
Altruism, in more than one point, is thus conceived 
by the means of egoism itself. Every consciousness 
of an analogy which satisfies the intellect opens a new 
direction for activity,, and activity tends to hasten 
along the track. There is therefore no need to look 
for a rule outside human nature conscious of itself 
and its type. Consciousness and knowledge neces- 
sarily have a directing and regulating function. To 
understand is to measure. All that is really con- 
scious tends to become normal Moral obligation is 
the force inherent in the idea approaching most closely 
to the universal, in the idea of the normal to us and to 
all beings. Since, in fact, the conscious idea derives 
most of its power from its very generality, the idea-force 
would be par excellence that of the universal^ if the 
generality were conceived in a concrete manner as 
representing a totality of social conditions. This idea 
we call the good, and in ultimate analysis it is the 


highest object of morality. Hence it appears to us 

Moral obligation has nothing resembling external 
restraint, and in fact it is not a discharge of mechanical 
force, it is not a violent impulse in this or that 
direction. When I say : — “ I am morally com- 
pelled to this or that act,” I mean something quite 
different from : — “ I cannot help doing it” It 
would seem then that the sentiment of obligation 
escapes from the domain of mental dynamics ; 
it is, however, as we have just seen, the mental state 
into which enter into play manifold springs of every 
kind, in which the internal dynamics of idea-forces 
are most intelligent and complex, although to the 
spectator from without the voluntary act is precisely 
the most contingent And thus we come to under- 
stand this phenomenon, so often a subject of wonder 
to psychologists, that the ideas which appear to us 
the most obligatory are precisely those least urgently 
imposed upon us by the brute force of physical 

It follows from the preceding considerations that 
education ought to make it its main duty to establish 
a classification of ideas, a hierarchy giving the 
first place to the most typical and universal ideas, 
incessantly placing before the child’s eyes as a pattern 

1 It will be observed that in this theory the intellect and activity no 
longer appear to be separated by an abyss. In my Esquisse d'une 
MoraU I think I have shown that there is no necessity to invoke the 
intervention of an extraneous pleasure, no need of a middle term or 
bridge to pass from one to the other of the two things — thought, 
action. They are at bottom identical. And what is called moral 
obligation or constraint is, in the sphere of the intellect, the sense of 
this radical identity ; obligation is an internal expansion, a need for 
completing our ideas by making them pass into action. Morality is 
the unity of the being. 



the ideal of the species and of normal man. We 
know we must proportion the ideal to the child’s age : 
the individual, alike from the moral and physical 
point of view, passes anew through the different 
stages of evolution ; it cannot therefore attain in a 
moment a degree of ripe civilisation. There is even a 
danger, as Spencer says, in excess of moral precocity 
as in excess of intellectual precocity. To demand 
too much from a child is to expose oneself to the 
danger of exhausting prematurely will and intellect 
alike. ‘‘You cannot put an old head on young 
shoulders?” Parents should be the more inclined 
to indulgence for the faults of their children, since 
those faults are usually attributable by heredity 
to the parents themselves, if they are not attributable 
to their mismanagement as educators. 

3rd. So far we have considered the formation of 
moral obligation as the result of individual evolution. 
I think that in the genesis of moral obligation it is 
best to first consider, as we have done from an 
abstract point of view, the evolution of the conscious- 
ness in the individual — 2>., in a restricted and more or 
less complete society, for to repeat what I have said 
before, in the eyes of modern science the individual 
himself is a society. We thus avoid the exag- 
geration into which so many have fallen : the 
mistake of absorbing the individual consciousness 
into the social ; of the exclusive reduction of moral 
tendencies to social ; of believing that the combina- 
tion of individuals has succeeded in bringing to light 
ideas and sentiments which did not already exist in 
embryo in each taken singly. Selection, according to 
Darwin the dominant law of social combinations, is 
in fact only the development and triumph of some 



internal capacity generated by individual evolution 
itself ; this capacity is prolonged in the species rather 
than created by natural or sexual selection. The 
English are therefore wrong in identifying morality 
too absolutely with the social instinct ; in actual 
practice no doubt it becomes fused with it, but 
reality does not exhaust every possibility. Besides, 
it is not always the fact that morality consists 
in the pursuit of a directly social purpose ; progress 
seems to multiply among us the search for ends 
which only very indirectly satisfy our emotional 
instincts; we devote ourselves to science, or to a 
hazardous undertaking, or to a work of art, for the:ir 
own sakes. Wherever there is such a devotion, such 
an exclusive pursuit of any end, even if illusory, we 
cannot deny that there is an expression of moral effort, 
although this effort is exercised independently of the 
social instincts of the race. Moral fecundity in a 
measure overlaps human society. In fact, we must 
not believe that the instinctive and hereditary senti- 
ment fixed by natural selection creates and explains 
in every detail the action of the individual. On the 
contrary, it often happens that accumulated activity 
has created a corresponding sentiment The social 
sentiment springs from the very nature of our organs, 
which have been fashioned by our antecedent actions ; 
power has preceded the sense of duty. We have not 
hands because we are charitable; we are charitable 
and we hold out our hands to others because we have 
‘hands. But if it be true that the individual might 
have spontaneously formed for himself an embryonic 
moral obligation, it is equally true that moral obliga- 
tion assumes an entirely new aspect when we consider 
it from the social point of view, when we take into 



account the new views of existing physiology 
on the subject of the constant action and reaction 
of nervous systems on each other. We then under- 
stand much better, not only the direction in which 
the moral sense is urging us now, but also its 
internal character, the secret of its energy; finally, 
and especially, we understand the increasing import- 
ance it will assume in us as education comes into 

From this new point of view, moral obligation 
appears to be a direct inter-action, conscious or un- 
conscious, of nervous systems on each other, and 
in general of life on life ; it is reducible to a 
deep sense of solidarity. To feel ourselves morally 
obliged is, in fact, in most cases, to feel ourselves 
obliged to others, bound to others, having solidarity 
with others. If with Darwin we exclusively attri- 
bute the origin of moral obligation to certain deter- 
minate social tendencies, we may recognise in man, 
as in every organism, a saaa/ basis, identical on the 
whole with the moral basis. In scientific analysis 
the individual is resolved into more than one — 
£^., into a society; the physiological individual is a 
society of cellules, the psychological individual is a col- 
lective consciousness. Moral obligation is therefore 
resolved into a solidarity — either the intra-organ ic 
solidarity of several cellules, or the extra-organic 
solidarity of social individuals. Morality being 
a harmony and an internal determinism, is in this 
sense, within the limits of the individual, a social 
phenomenon ; for every determination springing from 
the depths of our being is the result of the reciprocal 
action of the cellules and elementary consciousnesses 
which constitute us. These principles granted, we 



can understand how a certain duty is created by the 
increasing fusion of the sensibilities, and by the more 
and more social character of the higher pleasures 
which every day take a larger share in human life, — 
aesthetic pleasures, the pleasures of reasoning, under- 
standing, learning, seeking, etc. These pleasures 
make fewer demands on external conditions, and are 
much more accessible to all than pleasures properly 
egoistic. They are simultaneously deeper, more 
intimate, and more inexpensive (without being 
always completely so). They tend much less to 
make a line of demarcation between individuals than 
do inferior pleasures.^ The conscious solidarity of 
the sensibilities tends therefore to establish a moral 
solidarity between men. There are in the social 
being normal suifferings and joys multiplied between 
individuals by the phenomena of induction. These 
are, so to speak, symphonic pleasures — choirs chanting 
within us. 

Whatever development the fusion of sensibilities 
may thus acquire by sympathy and altruism, we may, 
it is true, always maintain that there is no real 
disinterestedness in it, but a transformation of the 
primitive instinct of life, which is the bias in one^s 
own favour.” And to prove an action is disinterested, 
it is not enough to show it has no interested motive* 
Rochefoucauld has, by subtle but necessarily inexact 
analyses, traced every action to interested motives; 
he has tried to explain the most spontaneous acts of 
sensibility by intellectual calculation. It was a serious 
mistake — due to the imperfection of physiological and 

1 This point I have developed in my Morale Epicure et ses Rapports 
avec les Doclrities Coulemporaines, and later in my Esquisse d'une 



natural science in that age. Ideas ^ are not the sole 
motives in an action ; feelings must be taken into 
account Now everything is changed if the new 
datum of feeling is introduced among causes pro- 
ducing acts. The noblest devotion, in which no 
interested motive can be found, may be referred to 
the promptings of emotion ; and sympathy is straight- 
way added to what Pascal calls ^^pente vers soV — 
bias in one’s own favour; according to the utili- 
tarians, altruism completes but does not radically 
transform egoism. Man is an intelligent and social 
animal; .this is the most accurate definition, into 
which, say the utilitarians, it is useless to introduce 
the element of disinterested liberty : nature is enough, 
the fatality of instinct replaces free impulse. If some- 
times we think ourselves freely disinterested, it is 
because we only consider ourselves from an external 
point of view ; where we no longer see the conscious 
and refined calculation of Rochefoucauld, we think we 
have discovered something extraordinary and supra- 
sensible : liberty and disinterestedness ! But instead of 
looking for an explanation above the intellect in an 
incomprehensible free will, look beneath the intellect 
and you will find it in sentiment. Letting ourselves 
be carried away by sympathy, we calculate no longer, 
but it is nature which has calculated for us: nature 
urges us gently towards others, so gently that we 
think we are walking alone, like a child who is held 
by its mother when taking its first steps, and who, not 
seeing the hand that holds it, but feeling the force 
supporting it, already imagines that its legs move 
nimbly of themselves. 

This is how the partisans of fundamental egoism 
^ Vide note, p. 62. 



reason. Into the discussion of this problem the 
author of Systhnes de Morale Contemporaine has 
introduced a new element of supreme importance — 
the influence of the idea. Even though our nature 
ignored true and free affection, should we ignore what 
might be called the appearance of affection ? By no 
means. Then again let us assume for the sake of 
argument the hypothesis of radical egoism. There 
exists in all beings a certain number of tendencies 
which are neither more nor less inevitable than others, 
but which have reference to other persons, and are 
called altruistic. These tendencies will naturally exist 
in each of us, and will tend to bring us closer together. 
We shall then try to outrun them, urged from within 
by an emotional prompting, but from without having 
the appearance of being moved by a moral idea. Well, 
is not that a great deal ? If I see one of my com- 
panions stretch out his hand, and, to use Kant’s 
expression, make as if he loved me, I shall clearly 
become the sport of an inevitable and beneficent 
illusion : I shall see him without any apparent 
motive of interest drawn towards me by all the 
outward signs of affection : I shall then conceive 
his acts as free from every egoistic object, and 
at the same time as having myself for their end : 
this is the idea of love. I shall believe I am loved, 
and even though the being who appears to love 
me should act at bottom from inevitable instinct, 
I shall imagine his action is free. How could it be 
otherwise? I do not, by hypothesis, know enough 
physiology to distinguish in what seems to be the 
entirely spontaneous and entirely pure affection 
another being appears to have for me, what part is 
played by the egoistic instincts inherent in his 


organisation. When I catinot attribute to one of my 
companions any interested motives, it will not occur 
to me to seek in his organisation the hidden cause of 
his action. Whether then I am deceived, or whether, 
on the other hand, I see further than men of science 
themselves, I shall believe I feel a heart and a volition 
where there may only be wheels and a machine ; I 
shall acquire the pure idea of love. Now, once 
acquired, what will this idea not produce ? When I 
see a fellow-man making friendly advances to me, 
I revolt at the thought of remaining cold and in- 
sensible to that affection, of remaining amiable 
externally alone, amiable in what is not me^ by 
a kind of deceit I wish to be worthy of being 
loved ; I wish to deserve the affection shown me ; I 
wish the appearance of some one loving me to become 
a reality, and, as Socrates said, I wish to be what I 
seem. But how can I become amiable if not by 
loving? How can I respond to affection if not by 
affection? My personality therefore unfolds itself, 
and tends to complete itself in a love more and more 
approaching real love. 

Thus the only two faculties philosophers have left 
us — the intellect and sensibility — quite naturally give 
rise to the idea of will guided by love. We have 
reached this idea by what may seem a circuitous 
route, but it is none the less natural for that ; for, in 
a word, how does the child learn to love ? Is it not 
because it sees it is loved ? Can we say that in the 
child love is natural and innate, and not a work of 
education ? The first movements of the child express 
nothing but the ego^ its sensations and passions, 
cries of joy or pain ; and later, with the sentiment 
of personality, cries of anger. But seeing around it 



the tenderest love manifested by the most palpable 
signs, feeling or believing itself to be loved, the child 
at length wishes in some measure to deserve this 
love, therefore it attempts to stammer a response to 
so many reiterated appeals. Through seeing others 
smile, the child smiles. How long it took to produce 
this first manifestation of love 1 We think it natural, 
spontaneous ; who knows all the accumulated efforts, 
the perseverance, the will, that the child had to exert 
to bring into the light of day that wonderful smile, 
already the faint sketch of disinterestedness ? Follow 
with the eye the moral life of the child reflected 
on its face ; you will see the preliminary sketch 
filled in with countless shades and colours ; but 
how slowly! No painting of Raphael ever cost so 
much effort. The child is naturally egoistic ; all for 
it, as little as possible for others. Only by receiving 
first does it end in giving; love, which seems its 
nature, is on the contrary an impulse above its 
nature, an enlargement of its personality. In this 
sense we may say with the greatest truth, it seems 
to me, that love is in the first place gratitude ; it is 
the sentiment of response to benefits received, and 
as it were an effort to deserve the boon conferred. 
It seems as if the first act of gratitude were an act 
of faith: I believe in the benefit; I believe in the 
good intention of the benefactor. From signs of 
love in its parents the child infers the reality 
of their love for it; man, in the presence of his 
fellows, draws the same deduction. Just as the idea 
of liberty determines us to act as if we were free, 
the idea of love invites us to act as if others loved 
us, and as if we really loved them. This idea, by 
which egoism is transformed into altruism, is lik^ 



the force which, in a locomotive, reverses the steam 
and makes the engine run in an opposite direction. 

Education consists in favouring this expansion 
towards others, instead of favouring forces of attrac- 
tion to oneself. It teaches how to find pleasure in 
the pleasure of others, and so how to make a choice 
among pleasures ; to prefer the highest and most 
impersonal enjoyments, and ipso facto those which 
involve the longest duration, and are, as it were, 

The preceding analyses issue in the conclusion 
that to be moral is, in the first place, to feel the 
force of our will, and the multiplicity of the powers 
inherent in our being ; in the second place, to realise 
the superiority of those possibilities having for their 
object what is universal over those with merely 
private objects. The revelation of duty is at the 
same time the revelation of a power which is inherent 
in us, and of a possibility extending to the largest 
group of beings who come within the sphere of our 
activity. Something infinite may be seen in and 
through the limits imposed upon us by individual 
obligation ; and this infinity has nothing mystical about 
it In duty we feel and experience, as Spinoza says, that 
our personality is always capable of further develop- 
ment, that we are infinite to ourselves, that our surest 
object of activity is what is universal. The sense of 
obligation is not attached to an isolated tendency 
in proportion to its intensity alone, but in proportion 
to its generality, to its expansive force and associa- 
tive power. That is why the obligatory character of 
the tendencies essential to human nature increase in 
proportion as they are separated from the simple 
necessity inherent in the coarser functions of the body. 


To sum up, we have marked out the three following 
stages in the development of the moral instinct : — 

1. Mechanical impulsion, only momentarily appear- 
ing in the consciousness to be there translated into 
blind propensities and unreasoned sentiments. 

2. An impulse, checked but not destroyed, tending 
ipso facto to invade the consciousness, and to be there 
incessantly translated into a sentiment, and to produce 
a permanent obsession. 

3. An idea-force. The moral sense grouping around 
it an increasing number of sentiments and ideas, 
becomes not only a centre of emotion, but an object 
of self-conscious reflection. Then obligation springs 
into being ; it is a kind of reasoned obsession — an 
obsession strengthened and not dissolved by reflec- 
tion. To gain consciousness of moral duties is to 
gain consciousness of inner and higher powers which 
are developing in us and urging us to action ; of ideas 
tending by their own force to realise themselves; of 
sentiments which, by their very evolution, tend to 
socialise themselves, to impregnate themselves with 
all the sensibility present in humanity and in the 

In a word, moral obligation is twofold conscious- 
ness: 1st, of the power and of the fecundity of higher 
idea-forces, unified by their common object — ^the 
universal ; 2nd, of the resistance of contrary 
and egoistic propensities. The tendency of life to 
the maximum of intensity and expansion is the 
elementary volition ; the phenomena of irresistible 
impulse, of simple and permanent obsession, and, 
finally, of moral obligation, are the result of the 
conflicts or the harmony of that elementary volition 
with all the other propensities of the human mind. 



The reconciliation of these conflicts is nothing but 
the search for and recognition of the normal pro- 
pensity which includes in us most auxiliary propen- 
sities, which has been associated with the greatest 
number of our other permanent tendencies. In other 
words, it is the search for that propensity which is 
at once the most complex and the most persistent 
Now these are the characteristics of the tendency to 
the universal. Moral action is therefore like the sound 
awakening in us most harmonics, vibrations at once 
the richest and the most permanent 

The consciousness of the impulsive force which 
belongs to the higher motives only reaches its full 
strength, we must clearly understand, when once it 
has been disobeyed. The moral instincts, in fact, 
reappear after the action all the stronger for the very 
resistance they have momentarily experienced. Thus 
is produced the sentiment of remorse. This senti- 
ment does not imply the notion of absolute liberty ; 
it presupposes the consciousness of the determinism 
which links our present to our past. If we had a 
keen enough sense of absolute liberty, if we thought 
we could completely renew ourselves by a single 
act of will, if we had not a vague fear that, in our 
being, each of our resolutions is implicit in the rest, 
and that the one issues from the other, the word 
"peccavi’’ would not have so profoundly sorrowful 
a character, for it would rather imply a past 
imperfection, but it would not imply an actual 
or future imperfection. Responsibility is not merely 
causality, but also solidarity; I must feel myself 
linked with something bad or repugnant, as if a 
blamable act were a part of me, before I experience 
that regret and shame which are the beginning of 



remorse. An act accomplished by me with the best 
intentions in the world, but of which the issue has 
been unfortunate in spite of every possible prevision, 
will still leave me a prey to a kind of internal torture, 
a regret for intellectual imperfection, not without 
analogy to regret for moral imperfection. A father 
is as pleased at his son’s good action as if he had 
done it himself, even when he has had nothing to 
do with the boy’s education; if, on the other hand, 
the lad behaves badly, the father will suffer and 
experience a remorse often keener than that of the 
culprit himself. Further, an act committed by a 
stranger, which we have witnessed without being 
able to prevent it, produces in us, if we have a well- 
developed and very delicate morality, an internal 
laceration, a sorrow analogous to remorse, and we 
feel as if the consequences of the act must partly 
fall upon ourselves. After all, there is some part of 
us in other men, and it is not without good reason 
that we feel ourselves degraded in our own eyes by 
whatever degrades humanity. In a word, responsi- 
bility seems far from being, as Kant thought, outside 
time and space, in the sphere of pure liberty and 
the pure noumenon ; on the contrary, it seems to be 
in both time and space, linked with the thousand 
associations of ideas which constitute the phenomenal 
ego. It is for the most part explained by the 
solidarity, the contiguity and continuity of beings. 
Accordingly, responsibility may pass from one being 
to another. We may have, so to speak, remorse 
for others; we may also rejoice in others ; it is a kind 
of sympathy or antipathy sometimes exercised by 
ourselves to ourselves, sometimes by ourselves to 
others. If the sense of responsibility extends 



especially from the past of the individual to his 
present and future, it is perhaps because we all 
feel, sometimes without being able to account 
for it to ourselves, the deep determinism which 
connects every moment of our individual life ; we 
feel that all within us is linked together : the past 
is, as it were, chained to us. Moral wounds, there- 
fore, like certain cicatrices, are ever painful, because 
'we are always changing, without, however, being 
able to renew or forget ourselves, and because an 
ever-increasing contrast is drawn between what we 
are and what we conceive ourselves to be. 

IV. Possible Dissolution of Morality, 

After the genesis of morality, it is appropriate to 
say a few words on its possible dissolution in the 
individual and in society, and also on its more or 
less diseased stages and arrested development It is 
important to the educator to be able to recognise 
them, and to know how to determine the share taken 
here again by heredity, and the influence of the 
internal or external environment respectively. As 
in the case of physical life, moral life is susceptible of 
disease or dissolution, and in this dissolution or 
arrested development of morality there are different 

1st Morality purely negative^ produced by the 
mutual nullification of tendencies, altruistic or 
egoistic, aesthetic or brutal, etc This neutral moral- 
ity is not due to a really solid organisation of the 
moral instincts formulated into a rational system of 
idea-forces, and further, it is necessarily unstable ; it is 


the transitory equilibrium of opposing tendencies, the 
morality of many people, whose impulses are not 
sufficiently strong in one direction or the other to be 
able to carry them very far from the normal line* 

2nd. Moral drovta, or the reign of caprices. This is 
an exaggeration of the former state, with the difference 
that the oscillations towards what is bad, or some- 
times towards what is good, have more amplitude, 
because the propensities are stronger. This state is 
peculiar to the impulsive temperament when its 
orientation is not referred to a centre of idea-forces 
of adequate attractive power. The impulsive tempera- 
ment produces a large number of criminals, who are 
not, however, necessarily the most dangerous ; it has 
even, under some circumstances, produced heroes. 
Among certain individuals moral tendencies exist, 
but they are not always sufficiently present, and may 
at any moment give place to opposite tendencies. 
In these individuals the consciousness is unilateral, 
powerless to present to itself two opposite directions 
of action, powerless to excite in itself those antagon- 
istic states whose presence is a characteristic of the 
more highly developed consciousness. In this case 
the lively sense of obligation disappears at the 
moment of the act, but is not long before it re- 
appears when once the . act is accomplished, and the 
tendency abolished which produced the act. Thus in 
the same individual we may see states of absolute 
immorality succeed each other, to be followed a few 
hours later by very keen, very genuine, but always 
fruitless remorse. This is because such an individual, 
gifted with an impulsive temperament, is, at the 
moment of the evil impulse, quite incapable of elicit- 
ing the contrary impulse with sufficient strength to 



partially paralyse the anterior impulse. The anta- 
gonistic states of consciousness are realised in him 
successively, instead of simultaneously; he is not a 
monster, but a man impotent from the moral point of 
view ; his will has undergone an alteration analogous 
to that produced in patients afflicted with “ aboulia. * 
The latter are powerless to pass from the conception 
of an act to its consummation ; they wish to go out 
for a walk, but they are unable to do so ; desire has 
not in them the determining force necessary to action. 
In individuals afflicted in some degree with moral 
aboulia, it is not the power of performing the act that 
is wanting, but the power of representing to them- 
selves simultaneously and completely the ends or the 
feelings which determine action. In the internal 
balance a certain number of weights are always for- 
gotten, and they do not reappear until the scale is 
already turned. 

3rd. Moral madness — the intervention of 
abnormal impulses (as, for example, those impelling 
children to destroy for the sake of destroying, to 
behave badly for the sake of doing so, to immodest 
acts, to eat their own excrement, etc.). These more 
or less irresistible abnormal impulses may coexist 
with the normal impulses, and with remorse for the 
act committed. A dipsomaniac is not a drunkard, 
nor is a kleptomaniac a thief ; a pyromaniac is not an 
incendiary, nor is a man with homicidal mania a 
genuine assassin ; the former protest all the time 
against the actions, and sometimes feel horror at 
them ; their moral sense is not altered, it is merely 
practically impotent 

4th. Moral idiocy — that is to say, the total or partial 
absence of impulses, altruistic, intellectual, aesthetic, 


etc Moral idiocy is never met with in the complete 
state; we constantly find it, however, in the partial 
state: how many children and men, on certain 
points of conduct, remain invincibly dull ! In others, 
altruism is entirely wanting, and that at the outset,- 
without their having to undergo a preliminary train- 
ing, as in the case of professional criminals. Moral 
tendencies may be almost completely wanting in an 
individual ; for instance, Maudsley mentions a case of 
a minister poisoning his wife with the utmost non- 
chalatice, and without experiencing the least inward 
repugnance to the act In these extreme cases both 
the actual sentiment of obligation during the act and 
moral remorse after it are wanting. 

5th. Moral depravity^ produced by normal impulses 
of abnormal intensity (anger, vengeance, etc), which 
become grouped, co-ordinated, and reasoned, and 
which counterbalance — and sometimes substitute 
themselves for — the moral sense. Then is produced 
not a primary but a secondary moral idiocy ; it marks 
the last stage of the moral dissolution, because it 
corresponds to an evolution of sentiment-forces and 
idea-forces in a direction contrary to the normal ; it is 
really an organisation of immorality. DostoiefFsky 
says, speaking of criminals he observed in Siberia : — 
« Not the least sign of shame or repentance. , . . For 
several years I never noticed the least sign of repent- 
ance, nor the least uneasiness for a crime com- 
mitted. . . . Certainly vanity, bad example, boasting, 
and false shame were there in plenty. ... It seems to 
me that in so many years I ought to have been able 
to seize some indication, however fugitive, of remorse 
or moral suffering. I noticed positively nothing of 
the kind.*^ M. Garofalo adds : — Their moral 


insensibility is such, that at the assizes assassins 
who have confessed do not recoil before the most 
harrowing descriptions of their crimes ; they exhibit 
a complete indifference to the shame with which their 
families are overwhelmed, and to the grief of their 

Thus the moral instinct, instead of being a funda- 
mentally immutable faculty as represented to us by 
certain schools, is a complex product of evolution, 
t^so facto subject to dissolution, to decadence, and to 
perfectibility alike. The educator should have before 
his mind this character of the moral sense, at once so 
elevated and up to a certain point so unstable. Not 
only individuals, but whole races are moralised or 
demoralised. And as morality is a condition of their 
progress — nay, of existence — they rise or fall in life, 
they are victorious or vanquished in the struggle 
for existence, according as they have enriched or 
impoverished their treasure of hereditary morality. 

Hence the morality of the race, together with its 
health and vigour, must be the principal object of 
education. All else is only secondary. Intellectual 
qualities, for example, and especially knowledge, 
learning, and information, are much less important 
to a race than its moral and physical vigour. Thus 
the educator never ought to invert the hierarchy of 
qualities necessary to the race ; he must never forget 
that the strength and vitality of creeds is due to their 
moral effect upon nations ; and that the more their 
influence declines, the more necessary it becomes to 
replace it by all moral influences. 

^ Revue Philosophique^ March 1887, P» 243.— On pp. 126-132 of 
Maudsley’s Mitid and Body will be found much interesting matter on 
this point, — Also see Ellis, The Criminal^ pp. 124-133, (Tr.) 

THE r6lE of education AND HEREDITY. 97 

V. The. Rdlc of Education and Heredity in the 
Moral Sense, 

The moral sense is, as I have pointed out, a higher 
product of education, in the widest significance of 
this word, which embraces the whole action of the 
physical and social environment I do not wish to 
imply that morality is artificial ; but merely that it is 
a second nature added to a primitively animal nature 
by the action and reaction of our faculties and 
environment Man, as we have seen, has made his 
own moral law by the higher powers he has little 
by little acquired in the process of evolution, by 
an education partly spontaneous, partly enforced, 
sometimes individual, sometimes collective. It is 
obvious that heredity also has its rS/e in the genesis 
of the moral instinct Let us then proceed to 
determine the respective spheres of these two 

According to Wundt, it is by no means certain that 
even the intuition of space is innate; in all cases 
the simple perceptions of the senses arc not so, in 
spite of their constant repetition in past ages. A 
man born blind has not a connate perception of light, 
nor has a man born deaf a connate perception of 
sound; we cannot therefore speak of ‘‘innate moral 
intuitions,” which would presuppose a multitude of 
very complex representations, relative to the agent 
himself and his fellows, and referring to his relation 
with the external world.^ Doubtless ; but we do not 
maintain or admit the existence of perfectly preformed 
moral intuitions, and Spencer has certainly gone too 

^ Viiie Wuttdfs p. 345. 




far in that direction. A tendency is not an intuition, 
and it is certain that there are hereditary tendencies, 
some moral and others immoral. We all know this, 
and Darwin has shown that among certain wild animals 
fear has become hereditary. For instance, when the 
Falkland Islands were first visited by man, the large 
dog-wolf (cams antarcticus) came up fearlessly to 
Byron^s sailors. Even more recently, a man with 
a piece of meat in one hand and a knife in the other 
could easily cut the throats of these creatures in the 
night. In an island on the Sea of Aral, the antelopes, 
generally so vigilant and timid, instead of taking to 
flight, looked at man as a kind of curiosity. Originally, 
on the coasts of the island of Maurice the sea-cow had no 
fear of man and the same was the case with the phoca 
and walrus in several parts of the globe. The birds of 
certain islands have acquired but slowly (and heredi- 
tarily) a salutary terror at the sight of man. In the 
Galapagos Archipelago, Darwin tells us he could push 
a hawk off a branch with the barrel of his gun, and he 
saw birds settle on a pitcher of water which he held 
out for them to drink from. There is in this, if not 
an intuition, at least the association of reflex move- 
ments, and almost of reflex sentiments with a repre- 
sentation — that of man. Why then should not the 
representation of man, by hereditary tendency, excite 
in man himself a peculiar pleasure, and an inclination 
no longer of flight, but to approach, speak, be helped, 
to put others in his place? When a child falls under 
the wheels of a carriage, we precipitate ourselves to 

^ The Lamantint or sea-cow Stelieri), Vide Weismann^s 

Essays on Heredity ^ edited by E. B. Poulton, M. A. (Clarendon Press, 
18S9), note on p, 92, where serious doubts are cast upon the accuracy 
of these statements. (Tr.) 


its rescue by an almost instinctive movement, just 
as we should start aside from a precipice. The 
image of others is thus substituted for the image of 
ourselves. In the scales of the inner balance, 7, thou^ 
are constantly interchanged. This delicate mechan- 
ism is partly produced by heredity. Man is thus 
domesticated, made gentler, and more civilised ; now 
he is partially savage, partially civilised or civilisable. 
The result of education through the ages is thus fixed 
in heredity itself, and this is one of the proofs of the 
power possessed by education, if not always for the 
present, at least for the future. 

We are also familiar with cases of reversion 
and atavism. The warlike and nomadic instincts 
characterising savage life persist in certain civilised 
men ; it is difficult for certain natures to adapt them- 
selves to the complex environment resulting from the 
host of opinions and habits we call civilisation. We 
may sec from this, says M. Ribot, that one funda- 
mental element in primitive savage life is preserved 
and reproduced by heredity. Thus the taste for war 
is one of the most generally prevalent sentiments 
among savages ; with them, to live is to fight. “ This 
instinct, common to all primitive races, has not been 
without its use In the prepress of humanity, if, as 
we may believe, it has assured the triumph of the 
stronger and more intellectual races over those less 
generously endowed. But these warlike instincts, 
preserved and accumulated by heredity, have become 
the cause of destruction, carnage, and ruin. After 
having served to create social life, they are no longer 
of any use but to destroy it ; after having made 
certain the triumph of civilisation, they then only 
work for its destruction. Even when these instincts 



are not bringing two nations to blows, they are 
manifested in ordinary life, in certain individuals, by 
a quarrelsome and combative humour, which often 
leads to vengeance, the duel, and murder.”^ The 
same is the case with the spirit of adventure : savage 
races possess it in so marked a degree that they 
plunge into the unknown with the carelessness of 
children. This spirit of enterprise, and want of fore- 
sight, although at first useful enough in opening up 
new worlds to commerce, travels, science, and art, has 
become in certain individuals a source of futile or 
ruinous excitement, the only excitement permitted 
by their environment, " such as the passion for play, 
stock-jobbing, and intrigue, or the egoistic and turbu- 
lent ambition of conquerors, sacrificing whole nations 
to their caprices.”^ We sometimes see reappear in 
remote descendants the old instincts of the race, 
lulled or latent for a great many generations, and 
manifested as an inexplicable reversion to the 
ancestral moral type. The higher classes of society, 
who are more in evidence, offer us striking examples ; 
as if the leisure and independence secured to them by 
wealth, depriving them of the influence of the local 
environment, and of the present conditions of life of 
their race, set at liberty “psychic forces” restrained 
in their contemporaries. “Thus,” says Madame 
Royer, “ we sometimes see the instinct of theft not 
only in the children of our cultured races, where 
education as a rule corrects it at an early period, but 
we sometimes see it persist in adults, and by its 
irresistible power draw into crimes, barely excusable 
from their obviously inevitable character, the women 
of our old and noble houses, who are thus the 
Ribot, nHiridiil « Ihid. 


melancholy heiresses of the old instincts of our 
barbarian conquerors.”^ 

We know how air, climate, the configuration of 
the soil, mode of life, the nature of food and drink, 
fashion the human organism by their incessant 
action; how these latent and dull sensations which 
do not reach so far as the consciousness, but 
which penetrate incessantly into our being, form 

^ What has always distinguished the savages of the Philippines from 
the other Polynesian races is their indomitable passion for liberty. In 
a massacre on the island of Luzon, made by native soldiers under the 
order of a Spanish officer, a little black, of about three years old, was 
seized by the troops and brought to Manilla. An American obtained 
permission from the government to adopt him, and he was baptised 
under the name of Pedrito. As soon as he was old enough, efforts 
were made to give him all the instruction that could be obtained in 
that remote land. The old residents on the island, knowing the 
character of the Negritos, laughed in their sleeves at the attempts made 
to civilise the lad, and prklicted that sooner or later the youth would 
return to his native mountains. Thereupon his adopted father 
announced that he would take Pedrito to Europe. He took him to* 
Paris and London, and only returned after two years of travel. On 
his return, Pedrito spoke Spanish, French, and English, with all the 
facility with which the black races are gifted; he wore thin patent 
leather boots, and ** everybody in Manilla still remembers the grave 
manner, worthy of any gentleman, with which he received the first 
advances of those who had not been introduced to him.” Two years 
had scarcely elapsed after his return from Europe, when he disappeared 
from the house of his patron. Those who had laughed now had their 
hour of triumph. It would probably have never been known what had 
become of the adopted child of the philanthropic Yankee, if a European 
had not come across him in a remarkable way. A Prussian naturalist, 
a relative of the celebrated Humboldt, resolved to make the ascent of 
Mount MariveUs, a mountain not far from Manilla. He had almost 
reached the summit of the peak when he suddenly saw before him 
a swarm of little blacks. The Prussian prepared to sketch a few faces, 
when one of the savages came forward and smiled, and asked him in 
English if he knew an American in Manilla of the name of Graham. 
It was our Pedrito. He told his whole story, and when he had ended, 
the naturalist in vain endeavoured to persuade him to return with him 
to Manilla.— Vide d^s Deux^AIcndeSt June 15th, 1869. 



in the long run “that habitual mode of the con- 
stitution we call the temperament” The influence 
of education is, according to M. Ribot, analogous to 
this ; it consists in a moral environment, and it issues 
in the creation of a habit M. Ribot remarks that even 
this moral environment is as complex, heterogeneous, 
and variable as any physical environment “ For 
education,” he says, “ in its accurate and complete 
sense, does not merely consist in the lessons of our 
parents and masters ; manners, religious beliefs, 
letters, conversations heard or overheard, are so many 
mute influences acting on the mind just as latent per- 
ceptions act on the body, and contributing to our edu- 
cation — contributing to make us contract habits.” 
In spite of this, M. Ribot tries to restrict the influence 
of education, and to vindicate anew against it the 
claims of innate tendencies : — For,” says he, “ the 
cause of the innate tendency is in ourselves.” He 
adds : “ Whether certain psychic qualities spring from 
spontaneous variation or from hereditary transmis- 
sion, is a matter for our present purpose of small 
importance; what we must be shown is, that they 
are pre-existent to education, which sometimes trans- 
forms but never creates them.” 

Why, we may ask M. Ribot, might not education 
create certain psychic qualities ? The words to create 
can no more be taken absolutely in heredity than in 
education. Heredity does not, properly speaking, 
create : it fixes and accumulates certain qualities, 
which often have themselves been acquired by that 
education, in the broad sense of the word, which M, 
Ribot has just before so well defined. If we are to 
believe M. Ribot, the opponents of heredity have 
made a great mistake in explaining by an external 


cause, by education, what is due to an internal cause, . 
the character : “ their polemic has often in fact con- 
sisted in laying down this, in their opinion, decisive 
dilemma : either children ought not to resemble their 
parents, and then where is the law of heredity ? or 
children resemble their parents morally, and then why 
seek any other cause but education ? Is it not quite 
natural that a painter or a musician should teach his 
art to his son ? that a thief should train his child to 
theft ? that a child born in the midst of debauchery 
should be tainted by its environment?” 

In my opinion, if the dilemma of which M. Ribot 
speaks does not show the influence of education, 
it shows at least that the influence of heredity, 
in countless cases, is not itself demonstrable, and 
that in the majority of cases it is not possible to 
draw the line of demarcation between the two 

Gall has clearly shown that those faculties existing 
in all individuals of the same race, exist in different 
individuals in very different degrees, and that this 
variety of tendencies, aptitudes, and characters, is a 
fact common to all classes of beings, independent of 
education ; but, in my opinion, the existence of natural 
varieties by no means precludes that of acquired 
varieties. Among domestic animals, spaniels or 
hounds are far from all displaying the same delicacy 
of scent, the same cunning in the chase, the same 
certainty in pointing the game ; shepherds’ dogs are 
far from all being endowed with the same instinct 
Race-horses of the same breed differ in speed; 
draught-horses of the same strain differ in strength. 
So with wild animals. Singing birds have natur- 
ally the song of their species ; but the skill, timbre, 


compass, and charm of voice, vary from one bird 
to another. Certainly ; but it has also been shown 
that singing-birds may learn to sing better, just as 
race-horses may be trained to run faster. 

In man, M. Ribot thinks that a few well-chosen 
examples are enough to show the rdle played by 
innate tendencies (often nothing but heredity), and 
to cut short all incomplete explanations drawn from 
the influence of education. We remember how 
D’Alembert, a foundling brought up by the widow 
of a poor glazier, penniless, without advice, pursued 
by the mockery of his adopted mother, his comrades, 
and the master who did not understand him, none 
the less went on his way hopefully, and became, at 
the age of twenty-four, a member of the Acaddmie des 
Sciences, which was only the beginning of his glory. 
“Imagine him brought up by his mother. Mademoiselle 
de Tencin, and at an early age admitted to the salon 
where met together so many men of parts ; imagine 
, him initiated by them into scientific and philosophical 
problems, and refined by their conversation ; and the 
opponents of heredity would infallibly see in his 
genius the result of his education.” That genius, we 
answer, cannot be the product of education; but 
education does not profess to give genius ; it develops 
it, gives it free play, and may produce talent. If we 
are to believe M. Ribot, the biography of most 
celebrated men shows that the influence of education 
has been sometimes nil^ sometimes harmful, and in 
most cases weak. If we take, he says, great generals 
— those generals whose debuts are the easier 
verified because of their striking characters — we find 
Alexander commenced his victorious career at 20; 
Scipio Africanus (the first) at 24 ; . Charlemagne at 

THE r6lE of education AND HEREDITY. $05 


30; Charles XIL at i8; Prince Eugene commanded 
the Austrian Army at 25 ; Buonaparte the Army of 
Italy at 26 ; etc. In the case of many thinkers, 
artists, inventors, men of science, the same precocity 
shows that education is of small moment compared 
with the innate tendencies. M. Ribot always speaks 
of men of genius. Even with men of genius, with 
Alexander, Charles XII., and Buonaparte — the 
accounts of the glorious deeds of others have almost 
invariably been the cause of the manifestation of 
genius. In conclusion, M. Ribot thinks he is reducing 
the influence of education to its just limits by saying — 
“ It is never absolute^ and is efficacious only in average 
natures! Assume that the different degrees of the 
human intellect are drawn up so as to form a linear 
series from idiocy at one end to genius at the other. 
According to M. Ribot, the influence of education is a 
minimum at each end of the series. It has almost no 
influence at all on the idiot; unheard-of efforts, 
prodigies of patience and skill, only issue in insignifi- 
cant and ephemeral results. But as we ascend towards 
the middle of the series, this influence increases, and 
attains its maximum in those average natures, which 
being neither good nor bad, are pretty well what 
chance makes them. Then if we glance at the higher 
forms of the intellect, we see the influence of educa- 
tion again decreasing, and " tending to its minimum 
as it approaches the loftiest genius. We willingly 
admit this ingenious law of the variations of influence 
dn the two first applications, without feeling bound to 
-conclude that education ‘‘ is efficacious only in average 
• fiatures.” In fact we readily see why an idiot is but 
little educable, but we do not see why the great 
' natural qualities of genius should make it inaccessible 


to education. The more naturally intelligent one i.s 
the more one is capable of learning, and of having 
one’s intelligence developed by education. The more 
naturally generous one is, the more one is capable of 
becoming heroic by education, etc. I think, therefore, 
that genius simultaneously realises the maximum of 
abundantly fruitful heredity and educability. 

It has been often noticed that it is not rare to find 
sceptical children in pious families, or pious children 
in sceptical families, children led astray in the midst 
of good example, or ambitious, though born in a 
peaceful and modest family. But because parents arc 
pious, it by no means follows that they arc good 
educators in religion ; a sceptic may produce belief 
by reaction in his children, and vice versd We can 
scarcely understand an hereditary scepticism, nor 
even an hereditary piety. 

Finally, concludes M. Ribot, to rule over average 
natures is still an important function ; for, ** if the 
higher natures act^ the average natures redact ; ” and 
history tells us that the progress of humanity is as 
much the result of the re-actions which check as of 
the actions which precipitate its motion.” We may 
accept this conclusion, with, however, the addition 
that education may and ought to reign over higher 
as well as average natures. Speed already acquired 
is only one condition more for the acquisition of still 
greater speed. 

It is especially in the moral order (on which M. 
Ribot barely touches) that education reigns supreme. 
It is difficult to pretend that we are born virtuous by 
the law of heredity, We certainly may have a natural 
goodness, gentleness, and generosity, but that is not 
yet morality properly so called. Morality is really 

THE r6lE of education AND HEREDITY. I07 

the daughter of the intellect, for the intellect frames 
an idea of the highest good, sets before itself an ideal 
end, and, having the consciousness of an initial power 
of realisation arising out of the very existence of the 
idea, erects into a law and duty the complete realisa- 
tion of the ideal. In the development of this ascending 
tendency, this perpetual sursum, education has enor- 
mous power; in my opinion it is, according to 
circumstances, the great moralising or demoralising 

The tendency of life towards the maximum of 
inward intensity and of outward expansion, is for us 
inherent in life itself. It is its initial spring. This 
tendency first becomes moral when the striving after 
the greatest inward intensity takes place in the direc- 
tion of the highest psychic activities; right direction is 
the essential point Now it is obvious that this right 
direction may be produced by education, just as it 
may also be naturally facilitated or partly predeter- 
mined by heredity, which makes certain tendencies 
and sentiments dominate others. The moral hierarchy 
of the sentiments is then easier to establish. In 
the second place, the tendency towards the maxi- 
mum vitality becomes moral when the tendency to 
outward expansion is manifested by concord with 
others, by sympathy and affection, instead of being 
manifested by brutality and violence. Here again 
education and heredity play an important part 
Education ends by putting others on the same 
footing as ourselves in our thoughts, in our senti- 
ments, and ipso facto in our wills. Heredity, on the 
other hand, transmits the tendencies to gentleness and 
kindness, as it may also transmit tendencies to violence 
and brutality. 



The element of obligation and duty remains — the 
form attached by us to the idea of the most intensive 
and expansive life. I have shown that obligation is a 
power which, conscious of its superiority, is opposed 
to what is inferior or incompatible, and is thus of 
itself translated into duty; I can do more and better 
than I do, therefore I ought. Here is a contrast, a 
sense of internal division, making us lay down in our 
thoughts a higher law than we realise, or see realised. 
This tendency to development of the maxiimwt power 
is accumulated in two ways — by education and by 
heredity. The more we do, the more we want to do ; 
the better we do, the better we wish to do ; there is 
an accelerated speed, an incessant craving to excel 
one’s self; as in the artist who is always wishing to 
produce a masterpiece better than all his preceding 
work. As for the form of the law, — imperative, or 
inward command, which is really a kind of internal con- 
straint, — it has the characteristics of an instinct which 
belong to everything that is hereditarily transmissible. 
We are born more and more controlled by this 
internal law ; the civilised child, instead of being like 
the savage, lawless and unrestrained, is quite ready to 
bend to the yoke of this inward law. Education finds 
in it a kind of pre-established respect for law, of 
natural loyalty, but it strengthens the inner law by the 
enormous force of acquired habits. Modern educa- 
tion should, above all, preserve and develop its own 
higher product — morality. In the case of children 
we must store up moral power by good habits. Duty 
being but the consciousness of higher power, we 
must before anything else give that power, or at 
least the belief in it, which tends spontaneously to, 
produce it 


Herbart very clearly saw the tendency of the 
human mind to maximationl^ which is, according 
to Kant, the most general characteristic of “ practical 
reason.” He understood the use to be made of 
it, and the rdh it should play in education. In the 
course of life each individual is led to formulate 
for himself rules of conduct, varying with the kind 
of life he leads, his tastes, preferences, habits, and 
needs. The rake and the hard-working man, the 
criminal and philanthropist, alike obey certain con- 
stant rules which at bottom are only the theoretical 
formula of their practice. This apparently singular 
fact is due, according to Herbart, to the necessary 
priority of action to the analysis or criticism of 
action. Moral consciousness itself does not exist 
in every detail in the child’s mind; but it is de- 
veloped in proportion as the child is called upon to 
act If, then, we wish to exercise a moral influence 
on children, we must direct their actions before teach- 
ing them axioms ; we must, as Herbart says, let them 
formulate for themselves rules of conduct conform- 
able to the virtuous habits inculcated in early life. 
Men, if they are not fond of carrying their maxims 
into practice, never forget to turn their practice into 
maxims. Now this offers no inconvenience when 
the practices are good practices.” The idea is true, 
but is exaggerated by Herbart when he thinks it 
useless to give maxims to children. It is good to 
accustom the child to make for itself a law^ a duty^ 
an obligation^ but as we cannot count on the absolute 
spontaneity of the child, we must first impose on it 
a law which it recognises as just and rational The 
law will then be accepted, and autonomy will subsist 
until it becomes obedience. Only, for this to be so, 



we must wish and act as a real lawgiver should — • 
with perfect uniformity and perpetual constancy. 
Thus the influence of education will be added to 
that of heredity. The latter may be enough to pro- 
duce genius, but it will never be enough to produce 
true morality. 



I. The Absolute Necessity of Physical Education in the Education of 
the Race, — Reasons for its neglect at the present day — Sedentary habits 
and their dangers— Precocity. 

II. The Boarding-School Question, — English public schools — The 
tutorial system — Germany — The United States. 

HI, The Questioji of Overpressure, — Necessity for recreation and 
games — Gymnastics, its advantages and shortcomings. 

IV, Manual Work in Schools, 

V. The Physical Progress of the Race, and the Growth of Population, 

I. The Absolute Necessity of Physical Education m the 
Education of the Race, 

It is said that the first pen ever used for writing 
was a cornstalk. With the stem of the corn that 
nourishes the body the first intellectual food is 

Whatever the sex of a child, its bodily powers may 
always be developed without any inconvenience, for 
physical health under all circumstances is a desirable 
possession. On the other hand, intellectual over- 
pressure, by fatiguing the body, may disturb the 
equilibrium of the mind. "To brace the mind, we 
must strengthen the muscles,*' said Montaigne, And 



Rousseau observed that “the weaker a body is, the 
more it commands; the stronger it is, the more it 

“The rationale of our high-pressure education is 
that it results from our passing phase of civilisation/’ 
“ In primitive times,” says Spencer, “ when aggression 
and defence were the leading social activities, bodily 
vigour, with its accompanying courage, were the 
desiderata; and then education was almost wholly 
physical; mental culture was little cared for, and 
indeed, as in feudal ages, was often treated with 
contempt But now that our state is relatively 
peaceful, — now that muscular power is of use for 
little else than manual labour, while social success 
of nearly every kind depends very much on mental 
power, — our education has become almost exclusively 
mental. Instead of respecting the body and ignoring 
the mind, we now respect the mind and ignore the 
body, , . . Few seem conscious that there is such a 
thing as physical morality. Merfs habitual words 
and acts imply the idea that they are at liberty to 
treat their bodies as they please.”^ 

“Though the evil consequences inflicted on their 
dependents, and on future generations, are often as 
great as those caused by crime, yet they do not 
think themselves in any degree criminal. It is true 
that in the case of drunkenness the viciousness of a 
bodily transgression is recognised; but none appear 
to infer that if this bodily transgression is vicious, 
so too is every bodily transgression. The fact is 
that all breaches of the laws of health are physical 

The object of education is to develop all the powers 

^ Spencer, Educaiion^ p. 189 (stereotyped edition). s Ibid,^ p. 190. 


of a being, to cause it to act in all directions, to make 
it expend as much as possible, and therefore not to 
draw upon it except for expenditure easily made 
good, — expenditure setting up the process of recu- 
peration, and in some measure itself recuperative. 

Exercise in the open air is a type of expenditure of 
this kind. The exact opposite of this is a prolonged 
stay in an unhealthy environment — e.g.^ certain fac- 
tories, a badly-ventilated clerks’ ofSce, the drawing- 
rooms where the middle classes spend a large part of 
their useless existence, or, finally, the French schools 
‘and colleges where sedentary habits are carried to 
excess. Sedentary habits are the greatest enemy of 
the body ; the greatest enemy of the mind is inatten- 
tion. The ideal of the educator is therefore to obtain 
from the child for a short period its whole attention, 
then to let it unbend and repair its expenditure. 

II. The Boarding-School Question. 

Hygienic mistakes in schools are very numer- 
ous ; the time for meals is too short ; the pupils 
eat too quickly and in silence, — this impedes their 
digestion. The bad air of the class-rooms gets 
worse and worse as the lesson is prolonged. We 
feel revulsion at the idea of all eating out of the 
same dish ; but in reality in our school-rooms 
we breathe in this way, or rather we do worse still, 
and breathe an atmosphere already expired several 

In addition to good food and good air, one essential 
point is a sufficient amount of well distributed sleep. 
Nourishment alone is not enough to repair the 
expenditure of the nervous system, and one of the 



greatest inconveniences of modern education is the 
cutting short or the unwise distribution of the hours 
of sleep. Every one has recognised the dangers the 
boarding-school may present with reference to 
hygiene — overcrowding and confinement, unhealthy 
for mind and body alike ; a rigid syllabus, narrowly 
conceived rules, breaking too often in the child that 
spring of the will, the strengthening of which educa- 
tion properly understood ought to have as its object ; 
the difficulty of getting house-masters ; separation 
from the family which ceases to care, while the child 
himself loses his home affections. In the time of 
Napoleon L the most violent efforts were necessary 
to fill the boarding lyceums ; the foundation of 6400 
scholarships does not seem to have been enough for 
the purpose. Over and above this, the edict of 
January i8th, and the decree of November 15th, 1811, 
abruptly closed all the small boarding-houses estab- 
lished either by the University professors or by 
others. The boarding-house is therefore an institu- 
tion artificially implanted in France by the all- 
powerful hand of the State. Napoleon wanted the 
student at a lyceum to be already a soldier and an 
official. Twenty years before, M. Sainte-Claire 
Deville called the attention of the Acaddmie des 
Sciences Morales et Politiques to the question of 
morality in boarding-schools Experimental mor- 
ality, if I may use the expression, can no more 
be practised on man than physiology ; but by 
operating on animals, and at the same time 
taking into sufficient account the human intellect, 
we may try to discover the physical causes of 
the faults and vices of children, who at certain 
periods of their development are so near the brute 


creation, and I am sure we may eventually arrive 
at practical results of great interest ... In general, 
whenever we group together and bring into domestic 
restraint animals of the same — and especially of 
the male — sex, we notice at first a great excite- 
ment, and afterwards a formidable perversion of the 
reproductive instincts. On the other hand, when 
animals destined to live in community are kept in 
flocks, or are at complete liberty, we see the normal 
characteristics of the animal dominate. . . . What 
happens in a flock happens also in a collection of 
male children, of whatever kind it may be, though 
restrained by the strictest surveillance both day 
and night The gravest inconvenience to society of 
these vices is the exaggerated development, between 
twenty or thirty years of age, of the generative 
faculties, from which spring debauchery and impurity 
of every kind.” The consequences to heredity and 
the race are obvious. 

Although the State has done much for instruction, 
it has done but little for education. If education is 
left in the hands of the State, the result will be large 
boarding-schools — ^the legacy of the sixteenth or 
seventeenth century Jesuits — where the child, parted 
from its family, acquires neither distinction of manner 
nor refinement Education, says M. Renan, is 
respect for what is really good, noble, and beautiful ; 
it is politeness, '‘that delightful virtue which atones 
for the lack of so many others ; ” it is tact, which is 
almost a virtue. "The professor cannot teach that 
purity and refinement of conscience, which is the basis 
of all solid morality, that bloom of sentiment which 
some day will be the great charm of the man, that 
mental subtlety with its almost imperceptible shades. 


— ^where then can the child and young man learn all 
these ? In books, in lessons, if due attention be paid 
to them? in texts learned by heart? Not at all; 
these things are learned in the atmosphere in which 
we live, from our social environment; they are 
learned in domestic life and nowhere else.” Instruc- 
tion is given in the class, the lyceum, and the school ; 
education takes place in the father’s house ; the 
masters are the mothers and sisters. , . . “Woman, 
deeply thoughtful and moral, alone can heal the sores 
of the present times ; alone can take up anew the 
education of man, and bring back the taste for the 
beautiful and the good.” We must therefore take 
back the child, we must not entrust it to mercenary 
hands, we must never be separated from it except 
during the hours devoted to class-teaching. 

The defenders of the boarding system speak of 
mutual formation of character. That is to say, that 
at school we quickly learn from the wholesome dread 
of solid fists to restrain within ourselves certain 
asperities of character ; but to think that those 
asperities have in consequence disappeared, is to 
forget that the hostile environment immediately 
formed by children in relation to those who are dis- 
tasteful to them is also apt to develop unsociability. 

But if the boarding system is an evil, it is none the 
less a necessary evil, and those who wish the State to 
suppress it in the lyceums do not realise what its aboli- 
tion would bring about There are only about a 
hundred lyceums, and as many more colleges and 
private schools, where secondary education can be 
effectually given. Now there are thirty-six thousand 
communes, and in each of these communes there are 
many children who must receive secondary education. 


Hence, for the provincial lower middle class, the 
boarding-school is the only, or at any rate the 
simplest, means of obtaining instruction for their 
children without too heavy a sacrifice. If the State 
suppressed these schools to-day, it would in the first 
place have to fear the competition of the clerical 
boarding-schools, and then schools of the same kind 
would be in a short time established by private indi- 
viduals. Public instruction, instead of being a State 
department, would become a private speculation — the 
worst of all industries. These little private boarding- 
schools have all the inconveniences of the lyceums, 
without having either their scholastic advantages or 
their discipline. The master is more than anything 
else afraid of losing a pupil, so he must shut his eyes 
to all that goes on. His assistant masters are on 
contract (£^., the lowest tender accepted) ; so we may 
imagine what they are like. The food is just what we 
might expect from the minimum fees paid by the 

Lastly, there is far greater danger of immorality, 
for there is neither proper surveillance, nor is the 
head master responsible to the university authorities. 
Laissez faire^ let things go, and hush up every scandal. 

Though the boarding-school cannot be entirely 
suppressed, at least it may be improved. To under- 
stand in what direction it may be reformed, and even 
partially replaced, let us see what is done in foreign 

In England, a school of secondary instruction — 
Harrow, for instance — is quite a hamlet. Different 
houses, tenanted by the teachers and their pupils, are 
grouped around the main building containing the 
class-rooms. All around are wide stretches of ground 


for tennis, football, and cricket The boys, only 
massed together in school hours, leave school directly 
the lessons are over, and return to the house in which, 
they live. 

In fact, the boys sent by their parents to a public 
school as boarders are handed over to one of the 
masters, whose house becomes theirs. There they 
remain — and this is the important point — during the 
whole time of their stay at school There they find, up 
to a certain point, family life ; they have their meals 
with the master, his wife, his mother, and his sisters. 
A boy may have ten masters, but he has always the 
same tutor. Thus the tutors are able to carry out 
the regulations laid down by the statutes, and are to 
the boys in loco parentis. 

The great schools are divided into two classes, 
according to the system pursued with respect to 
sleeping arrangements. At Eton, for instance, each, 
boy has his own little room. In others, as at Rugby, 
the boys are distributed, at night only of course, in 
dormitories of from two to sixteen beds. But on one 
point they all agree — ^viz., the perfect freedom of the 
boys out of school hours. Once the lesson is over, 
the boy comes back, goes out, works, or plays, just as 
he likes and when he likes. The only rule that 
obtains is absolute ; it refers to the hours of lessons, 
meals, and "lock-up,” the latter being at nine in 
summer, and in winter at dusk. The only obligation 
is to have finished the work set by a stated time. 
" Severe penalties are inflicted for all forgetfulness, 
and for all neglected work” Under such conditions 
as these, surveillance as understood in France is 
literally impossible : out of school the boys watch and 
govern themselves, 


The big boys, or rather the boys in the highest 
class, called monitors^ prcepostors, or prefects^ are 
legally invested with power, and maintain their rights 
with all possible energy. This does away with the 
mattre d'^tudes^ at once. I should add, that if this 
system became prevalent in France, it would be 
necessary to modify some of the English customs. 
Fagging, for example, would have no chance of being 
established here. The main objection is that English 
secondary education is of a very aristocratic character. 
The fees at Harrow or Eton are from £^20 to £/^Zo 
per annum. At this price they may have comfort 
It has yet to be ascertained if it is easy for the child 
of a tradesman or peasant to pursue his classical 
studies. It is true there are many less expensive 
schools, and that there are a great many scholarships. 
Unfortunately the English themselves assure us that 
the scholars ” are looked down upon with the utmost 
contempt by their aristocratic school-fellows. 

Harrow, Eton, and Rugby are the principal seats of 
secondary instruction, and nearly correspond to our 
great lyceums ; there are about 800 boys at Eton, and 
500 each at Harrow and Rugby, in age averaging 
from 13 to 18. Eight hours’ work per day is the 
maximum ; in most cases it is only six or seven ; 
athletics — tennis, football, running, boating, and 
especially cricket — occupy a part of every day ; 
in addition, two or three times a week there is 
no afternoon school, and games reign supreme. 

I have shown from the French point of view the 
advantages of the English system; let us ask the 

^ The duties of the mattre dUiudes are to look after the boys when 
not in school — a-tf., when preparing lessons, sleeping, walking, playing, 
gating, etc. (Tr.) 



English themselves what are its drawbacks. The 
first is physical overpressure^ which stands out in 
strange contrast to our intellectual overpressure. 
This physical overpressure has affected all classes of 
the community, even those who, from their position, 
would seem most likely to escape it — ^viz., the aris- 
tocracy. And, in curious contrast to what obtains in 
France, if the English doctors raise the question of 
overpressure, it is physical overpressure, and they 
lead the crusade against the abuse of rough games. 
The most pronounced opponent of games of strength 
in England is a contemporary novelist, Wilkie Collins, 
who, in his Man and Wife^ discusses amongst other 
questions the present rage for muscular exercise, 
and its influence on the health and morality of the 
rising generation in England. In the preface of 
this book, written in 1871, he expresses himself as 
follows : — 

“ As to the physical results of the mania for muscular cultiva- 
tion which has seized on us of late years, it is a fact that the 
opinions expressed in this book are the opinions of the medical 
profession in general — with the high authority of Mr. Skey at 
their head. And (if the medical evidence is to be disputed as 
evidence based on theory only) it is also a fact that the view 
taken by the doctors is a view which the experience of fathers 
in all parts of England can practically confirm by reference to 
the cases of their sons. This last new form of our ‘national 
eccentricity’ has its victims to answer for—victims who are 
broken for life. 

“As to the moral results, I may be right or I may be wrong, 
in seeing as I do a connection between the recent unbridled 
development of physical cultivation in England, and the recent 
spread of grossness and brutality among certain classes of the 
English population. But, is it to be denied that the grossness 
and the brutality exist? and, more, that they have assumed 
formidable proportions among us of late years? We have 


become so shamelessly familiar with violence and outrage, that 
we recognise them as a necessary ingredient in our social 
system, and class our savages as a representative part of our 
population, under the newly invented name of ‘Roughs.’ 
Public attention has been directed by hundreds of other writers 
to the dirty Rough in fustian. If the present writer had confined 
himself within those limits, he would have carried all his readers 
with him. But he is bold enough to direct attention to the 
washed Rough in broadcloth — and he must stand on his defence 
with readers who have not noticed this variety, or who, having 
noticed, prefer to ignore it.” 

Mr. Matthew Arnold, in his turn, does not hesitate 
to declare that the great mass of his fellow-countrymen 
are either Barbarians, recruited especially from the 
aristocracy; Philistines, forming the bulk of the middle 
classes; or the squalid masses, which he calls the 
Populace.^ He is of opinion that the character of this 
or that class of society depends especially upon its 
conception of happiness ; now the Barbarians, as he 
tells us, delight in honours, consideration, bodily exer- 
cises, field sports, and noisy pleasures. The Philistines 
care for nothing but fanaticism, the fever of business, 
money-making, comfort, and tea-meetings. As for the 
masses, their only happiness is in brawling, hustling, 
smashing — and cheap beer. Mr. Matthew Arnold 
asserts that in England public education is deficient, 
that it tends to increase the number of Philistines and 
Barbarians, and does but little to mitigate the brutality 
of the masses ; that it would be a good thing for the 
government to take it in hand ; that it is for the State 
alone to instruct and elevate the people; and that 
this system works well in France. 

On the other hand, a great authority at the Universi- 
ties, Edward Lyttleton,has pointed out in the Nineteenth 

^ Culture and Amrchy^ chap. iii. (Tr.) 



Century the abuse of athletics in schools. The spec- 
tators are so numerous, and to such an extent have 
the parents and the public encouraged these games, 
that they have become the dominant and almost 
exclusive interest of a large number of pupils. If a 
boy is robust and skilful, even if at the bottom of a 
class of dunces, the hope of approaching triumph is 
placed before him ; he becomes the master, and the 
absolute master. Teachers and heads of schools are 
obliged to subordinate themselves to the necessities 
of the games. Intellectual culture takes rank after 
athletics. As for morality, Mr. Lyttleton asserts that 
even if games are of use in restraining certain dis- 
orderly habits, they have nothing in themselves of a 
moralising tendency, ‘‘ Mere students are as a body 
more virtuous than the mere athletes.” According 
to Mr. Lyttleton, the cause of this excess is the 
infatuation of the public and its enormous interest in 

In spite of all these drawbacks, it must be agreed 
that this athletic education, confined within proper 
limits, is a condition of the regeneration and heredi- 
tary strength of the race. If an idle fellow in England 
becomes a Hercules, it is a compensation and consola- 
tion to the race. But our idle boys are " little and 
overworked,” only adapted to cause our race to dis- 

Let us now see how things are managed in 
Germany. M. Michal Br6al, who is singularly com- 
petent to speak on this question, will give us the infor- 
mation we require. In Germany the parents look 
out for some family of good repute, able and willing 
to give the child board and lodging. He is received 
^ Nineteenth Centwy^ January 1880. 



as a playfellow of the children of the house, and has 
his place at the domestic hearth. All this is done for 
a sometimes astonishingly small remuneration ; the 
little guest disturbs no arrangements, an unoccupied 
room is all he wants, and one mouth more at table 
increases inappreciably the household expenses. For 
two hundred years this custom has obtained in Ger- 
many, and there is no likelihood of its being aban- 
doned. At the present moment, out of one thousand 
pupils at the gymnasiums, less than a hundred are 
without the advantages of family life.” ^ The board- 
ing-school does, however, exist in Germany, but is the 
exception to the rule. 

In the matter of school organisation, the United 
States are inspired both by Germany and England ; 
there we find schools like Harrow, for instance, for 
the children of the wealthy classes. 

How far are these different systems applicable in 
France with our present customs? With reference 
to the adoption of the English tutorial system, it may 
be objected that if the teacher fulfils at the same time 

^ This system also obtained in France in bygone days. ** I was 
born,” says M. Renan, ** in a small town in Lower Brittany, where was 
a school kept by a few respected ecclesiastics who taught Latin very 
well. The perfume of antiquity exhaled by that house enchants me now 
when I think of it ; one might imagine one’s self transported to the days 
of Rollin or of the recluses of Port Royal. This school was attended 
by the youth of the town and of the country round within a radius of 
from six to eight leagues. There were very few boarders. When the 
young folk had no relations in the town, they lived with the towns- 
people, many of whom made some little profit in the exercise of this 
hospitality ; the relations coming in to market on Wednesday brought 
the children their provisions for the week ; and the latter messed in 
common with much cordiality, gaiety, and economy. This was the 
system pursued in the Middle Ages. It is also the custom in England 
and Germany, — countries so advanced in all matters connected with 



the duties of tutor, his office must sustain some detri- 
ment We cannot without danger combine the work 
of preparing a class with the absorbing care of private 
teaching. “ The university,” says Bersot, has a staff 
of professors, men much respected and of great dis- 
tinction, with modest means, but independent of the 
families whose children they educate, entirely devoted 
to the work of their classes, or perhaps adding to it 
other labours, ranking among the most important 
works of our time; we do not want them to be 
other than they are, or to cease to do what they do 
so well.” When he represents our professors as 
entirely devoted to the work of their classes^ Bersot 
forgets that nine-tenths of them spend their days 
in giving private lessons, etc, no less absorbing 
and stupefying than tutorial work. It is obvious 
that only such professors as these would take 

The model Alsatian school, into which have been 
introduced most of the reforms lauded by modern 
pedagogues, has succeeded in replacing the boarding- 
school by the tutorial Hgime. The Directeur of the 
school recently congratulated himself, and with good 
reason ; he contrasted the life of a boarder in one of 
the best lyceums with the child^s life in one of the 
teacher’s houses. The child sleeps in his own room ; 
his private life is watched as it would be by his father 
or ‘mother, but it is respected. He gets up early in 
the morning, not at the sound of bell or drum, but 
because the whole household is getting up, and 
because there is a tradition that morning work is the 
healthiest and most fruitful. He does his exercises, 
or he learns his lessons, either alone in his own room, 
if he is a big boy, or in the common room with other 


little friends of his own age, under the paternal care 
of the head of the family, or sometimes under a young 
master — a teacher in the school — who is like an elder 
brother of the pupils. The holidays, Thursday and 
Sunday, are always devoted to long walks ; the 
country is visited in order that the boys may have 
the opportunity of giving themselves up to those 
amusements which form the best part of the existence 
of the English youth — ^walking, rough games, cycling, 
skating, swimming; there the boarders frequently 
meet their school-fellows ; in fact, life in the open-air, 
long walks, and bodily exercise are the traditions not 
merely of the school but of most of the families from 
which the pupils are drawn. 

We may also mention the Ecole Monge as a model 
of an improved boarding-school, where the children 
talk during meals ; where — and I draw particular 
attention to this point — they sleep in a well-ventilated 
room, the younger children for lo hours, the elder 
children for 9 hours ; whereas at a lyceum the children 
above 1 3 years of age get no more than 8 hours’ sleep 
in summer. 

The only drawback is the question of money. Even 
in the Alsatian school, where the tutorial regime 
appears to have been established in a peculiarly 
economical fashion, the average fees are as high as 
j^ioo per annum for the younger children, and ;^I20 
for the rest 

Our higher primary instruction is at present pro- 
vided with boarding-scholarships, which are a very 
happy adaptation of the German plan. The holders 
of these scholarships are placed in families within 
easy distance of the schools, and the State pays £20 
a year for their board. If we remember that these 


scholars are on the average between 12 and 16, we 
may hope that an average of £ 2 S per annum would 
be enough for the board of pupils receiving secondary 
instruction. Add to this the school fees — about £12 
per annum — and the total expense is not greater than 
that of the ordinary boarding-school. Hence the 
boarding-out system, from the pecuniary point of view, 
does not raise the same objections as the tutorial 
system. The difficulty would be to find the families 
(with the necessary guarantees) to whom the children 
might be entrusted. MM. Br6al and Rauni6 think 
they would certainly be forthcoming. The parents of 
day-boys would often offer to receive some of their 
boys’ school-fellows. In this way would be formed 
little groups of scholars, over whom the adopted 
family would exercise the necessary care and super- 

The day-school system leaves to the family its share 
of legitimate and necessary action. In Paris and our 
great towns it is the day-school to the development of 
which our main attention must be drawn. 

In France we have pushed uniformity to the verge 
of eccentricity. Why should all our lyceums and 
schools be organised on the same type ? Why should 
we not tiy the partial introduction into France of 
the public school, the tutorial, and the boarding-out 
systems ? But, at the same time, the boarding-school 
must be reformed. Discipline must be relaxed ; 
children must be allowed to talk whenever they may 
talk without inconvenience; supervision must be 
improved by investing those to whom it is entrusted 
with more authority; mutual discipline must be 
organised by monitors and pupils of high standing. 

As authority based on capacity is the only authority 



that is not factitious, maitres d" Etudes can only be 
'retained on condition that they are really repetition- 
masters — i.e,^ that they have to correct exercises and 
hear lessons. But how can that be properly done in 
a class of from 25 to 30 boys? M. Jules Simon 
proposes to re-establish in France the long-abandoned 
system of entrusting parts of the supervision to the 
boys. This proposal arouses the cry of, “ Oh, that is 
espionage ! ” ** Not at all,” replies M. Simon ; “ there 
is no such thing as open espionage.” Give the boys 
the sergeant-major’s stripes, and extend into school 
hours the authority entrusted to them at other times. 
There is no espionage in that, nor is good-fellowship 
affected. As soon as ever such a small degree of super- 
vision is entrusted to the head boys, the duties of 
supervision will be changed in the eyes of the whole 
school, and the repetition-masters will be able to take 
their share without loss of dignity. ** I have seen this 
plan in working order on a very large scale,” adds M. 
Simon, We had only one preparation-master for 60 
or more boys ; but in each form a boy was entrusted 
with the maintenance of discipline, and he acquitted 
himself of his duties admirably, without losing caste 
or being the worse thought of for it. No difficulty 
occurred if the master went out ; silence prevailed as 
if he were in the room. It is all a question of habit. 
Military rank is a veiy good instrument for the attain- 
ment of this end.” It is important that we should 
realise that we are almost the only European nation 
who do not utilise the elder boys in the maintenance 
of discipline among their younger school-fellows. It 
is of course true that the Frenchman is so undiscip- 
lined by nature ! 

Again, we must reform in the matter of walking. 



In the days of the Jesuits, and in most of the Catholic 
schools, long walks were rather frequently taken. A 
rendezvous was appointed — an old castle, a remark- 
able site, the sea coast, etc. Generally a lunch was 
served on the grass, or even supper if weather per- 
mitted. A long walk was always necessary before 
the goal was reached, but it was done merrily, and 
the very fatigue became a pleasure. I thought of 
introducing this plan into our schools,” says M. Simon; 
thought of giving our walks an instructive object.”^ 

^ M. Simon thinks that if the weather is uncertain, and the country 
impossible, the boys should go to the museum at the Louvre, some- 
times with a drawing-master, but in most cases with the master who 
teaches history or literature. ‘'Another day we might have visited 
Cluny, La Monnaie, the Fine Art Schools. The history-master might 
have taken us to the National Library to admire the books, manuscripts, 
medals, stamps, and the palace itself, so full of memories of Mazarin. 
There is always something to teach, even if we do nothing but walk 
about the streets of a town so often the scene of the most important 
events in French history* N6tre Dame, in the heart of Paris, teems 
with lessons. This building alone teaches us half the history of 
France. There Henry IV. went to hear the immediately 

after his return to Paris ; there, too, after the abjuration of Gobel, was 
inaugurated the worship of the goddess Reason. In the square of the 
H6tel de Ville, or rather in one of its corners, for our fathers liked to 
crowd together, they used to hang, draw and quarter, break on the 
wheel, torture, and bum. There many a bonfire has blazed. There 
have been heard cries of ‘F’ws le Roil^ to all the kings of France; 
there, too, cries of ' Vive la Ripubligue / ^ to every provisional 
government ; until at length, on a day of eternal shame, the Palace of 
the Ville de Paris was converted into a sinister ruin. Going up the 
Rue St. Mtoine we find no traces of either the H6tel St Paul nor of 
the Bastille. EHam ^eriire ruinae. We should have summoned 
around the H6tel Rambouillet the shades of the great Corneille, 
Chapelain, and Voiture. We should have visited the room in which 
Voltaire died, the street in which Jean Jacques Rousseau lived, the 
street where Moli^tre was born, the spot whither his body was carried, 
in doubt if a corner could be obtained as a resting-place for his 
remains. Paris, a town of eternal agitation, allows all its relics to be 
destroyed, either by the weather or by rioters, nay, sometimes at the 



The country ought to be an especial attraction to 
children ; in it they should lay up a store of good 
spirits and health. 

In geological walks, the master before starting 
gathers the boys together, and in twenty minutes 
gives them a few general notions on the district they 
are going to study ; then each takes his hammer and 
his bag, and they rush off to get in the open air a 
lesson, the recollection of which will never be effaced. 
The sciences of facts — ^history, natural history, and 
geography — are learned by the eye. Montaigne was 
not content with walks for his pupils : like Locke, he 
wanted real travels.^ Nothing could be easier and 
less expensive, as Bouillier has shown, than the 
journey from one lyceum to another, to the sea or 
mountains, to a town full of interest, from Paris to 
the provinces, or from the provinces to Paris, putting 
up all along the road at the schools and lyceums, 
which would be like so many free inns; the school- 
boy’s uniform — as. in the army — ensuring reduced 
railway fares. Mutual hospitality between the schools 

expense of its magistrates. It scatters broadcast neither statues nor 
inscriptions ; and all this makes one more reason for piously following 
up the traces of history — campos ubi Troja. Even to understand the 
history of the Revolution we have to take into account the subsequent 
changes in Paris. If we are unaware that between the Louvre and the 
Tuileries lay a whole quarter, theatres, palaces, a market, a hostelry 
for pages, and two barracks, how can the events of the loth of August 
be explained? How many Parisians know where the Convention sat ? 
or where the Salle de Feuillants or the Salle de Jacobins were situated? 
Medical students who visit the Dupuytren Museum do not know it 
was once the Club of the Cordeliers. Does the obelisk' between the 
Champs-^lys^es and the Tuileries hide or mark the site of the revolu- 
tionary scaffold ? ’* 

1 le vouldrois qu*on commen9east k promener I’enfant dez sa tendre 
enfance par les nations voysines oil le langage est plus esloingu 4 du 
nostre, , . .’’—Montaigne, Essais^ bk, i., chap. xxv. (Tr.) 



on these travels would take the place of payment 
The boarding-schools should be established outside 
the towns, and — if practicable — on the hills : if we 
had, as they have in England and Germany, great 
schools far in the country, near forests, or better still 
on the heights of the Dauphin^ or on the Pyrenees, 
fashion would eventually make them the homes of 
education for the wealthy classes. In this way we 
could combat the degeneration of the middle classes, 
which is much more rapid in France than elsewhere, 
because the custom of restricting the number of 
children of itself is sufficient to check natural selec- 
tion of the higher qualities. 

Others might be established near the large towns, 
but always in the country, and within easy reach 
by rail or tram. The companies would give to 
pupils and masters, on the presentation of satisfactory 
certificates, school season-tickets at extremely reduced 
rates, as is already done in a few places in France and 
everywhere in Belgium and Germany. Daily special 
trains, like the children's Sunday trains from Paris to 
Vanves, Fontenay, etc., might be organised to take 
children to a place in the morning and bring them 
back in the evening. In this way the difficulties 
arising from both children and masters living at a 
distance from the school would be removed. 

III. The Question of Overpressure, 

The question of overpressure has long divided and 
passionately excited men of intellect 

Spencer justly remarks that “in all businesses and 
professions, intense competition taxes the energies 


and abilities of every adult . . . The damage is thus 
doubled. Fathers, who find themselves run hard by 
their multiplying competitors, and, while labouring 
under this disadvantage, have to maintain a more 
expensive style of living, are all the year round 
obliged to work early and late, taking little exercise 
and getting but short holidays. The constitutions 
shaken by this continual over -application they 
bequeath to their children. And then these com- 
paratively feeble children, predisposed to break down, 
even under ordinary strains on their energies, are 
required to go through a curriculum much more 
extended than that prescribed for the unenfeebled 
children of past generations. The disastrous con- 
sequences which might be anticipated are everywhere 
visible,” especially in the case of girls, and they are 
accumulated by heredity. “ In a child or youth the 
demands upon this vital energy are various and 
urgent; . . the waste consequent on the day’s 
bodily exercise has to be met; the wear of brain 
entailed by the day’s study has to be made good; 
a certain additional growth of body has to be pro- 
vided for; and also a certain additional growth of 
brain ; to which must be added the amount of energy 
absorbed in digesting the large quantity of food 
required for meeting these many demands. Now, 
that to divert an excess of energy into any one of 
these channels is to abstract it from the others is 
both manifest i priori^ and proved d. posteriori by 
the experience of every one. . . . Every one knows 
that excess of bodily exercise diminishes the power 
of thought — that the temporary prostration following 
any sudden exertion, or the fatigue produced by a 
thirty miles’ walk, is accompanied by a disinclination 


to mental effort; that, after a month^s pedestrian 
tour, the mental inertia is such that some days are 
required to overcome it ; and that in peasants who 
spend their lives in muscular labour the activity of 
mind is very small. . . . During those fits of rapid 
growth which sometimes occur in childhood, the great 
abstraction of energy is shown in an attendant pros- 
tration, bodily and mental. . . . Violent muscular 
exertion after eating will stop digestion ; children 
who are early put to hard labour become stunted;” 
these facts ‘‘similarly imply that excess of activity 
in one direction involves deficiency of it in other 
directions. Now, the law which is thus manifest in 
extreme cases, holds in all cases. These injurious 
abstractions of energy as certainly take place 
when the undue demands are slight and constant, 
as when they are great and sudden. Hence, if 
during youth, the expenditure in mental labour 
exceeds that which nature has provided for, the 
expenditure for other purposes falls below what it 
should have been; and evils of one kind or other 
are inevitably entailed. . . . The brain, which during 
early years is relatively large in mass but imperfect 
in structure, will, if required to perform its functions 
with undue activity, undergo a structural advance 
greater than is appropriate to its age; but the 
ultimate effect will be a falling short of the size 
and power that would else have been attained. And 
this is a part cause — probably the chief cause — why 
precocious children, and youths who up to a certain 
time were carrying all before them, so often stop 
short and disappoint the hopes of their parents. . . , 
Various degrees and forms of bodily derangement, 
often taking years of enforced idleness to set partially 



right, result from this prolonged over-exertion of 
mind. Sometimes the heart is chiefly affected ; 
habitual palpitations ; a pulse much enfeebled ; and 
very generally a diminution in the number of beats 
from seventy-two to sixty, or even fewer. Some- 
times the conspicuous disorder is of the stomach; 
a dyspepsia which makes life a burden, and is amen- 
able to no remedy but time. In many cases both 
heart and stomach are implicated, mostly the sleep 
is short and broken. And very generally there is 
more or less mental depression. Excessive study 
is a terrible mistake, from whatever point of view 
regarded. It is a mistake in so far as the mere 
acquirement of knowledge is concerned. For the 
mind, like the body, cannot assimilate beyond a 
certain rate ; and if y'ou ply it with facts faster than 
it can assimilate them, they are soon rejected again : 
instead of being built into the intellectual fabric they 
fall out of recollection. ... It is a mistake too, 
because it tends to make study distasteful; ... it 
is a mistake also, inasmuch as it assumes that the 
acquisition of knowledge is everything ; and forgets 
that a much more important thing is the organisa- 
tion of knowledge, for which time and spontaneous 
thinking are requisite. ... It is not the knowledge 
stored up as intellectual fat which is of value; but 
that which is turned into intellectual muscle. ... A 
comparatively small and ill-made engine, worked at 
high pressure, will do more than a large and well- 
finished one working at low pressure. What folly 
it is, then, while finishing the engine, so to damage 
the boiler that it will not generate steam ! ” ^ 

The overpressure of which Spencer complains is 
* Spencer, Education^ chap, iv,, pp. i74-i86,/<ww//, (Tr.) 



much more exceptional in England than in France, 
where it may be said to be the rule. The pupils of the 
lyceums in Paris have four hours daily in class, and 
seven hours of preparation : eleven hours altogether ; 
and those who take up rhetoric and philosophy are 
allowed an additional half-hour. Eleven and a half 
hours* work per day ! During the scanty time allowed 
for recreation, they stop in a corner of the playground 
and talk together, or walk about like ‘‘ grave citizens.** 
Of games of ball or tennis the boys in our lyceums 
know nothing. “Are there many grown-up men 
among us who work eleven hours a day^? ** asks M, 
Simon. Quality of work is far better than quantity. 
This has been shown experimentally in the London 
schools. Chad wick, inspector of either schools or work- 
shops in England, was one of the founders of “half- 
time** schools. His experiment in London was as 
follows : — He divided the boys of a school into two 
series of almost equal strength — the ist, 3rd, sth, 7th, 
and 2nd, 4th, 6th, Sth, etc One of the series worked 
all day, the other worked half the day ; after a time 
they were set to work together. The half-time school 
often beat the full-time school ; and “ if it beat it at 
school-work, it d fortiori beat it in games.** It was 
shown that two hours* good work was of more value 
than four hours* indifferent work.^ 

How many masters have the boys who are taught 
rhetoric in the lyceums of Paris? M. Jules Simon, 
formerly Minister of Public Instruction, is in a better 

^ In 1832 Chadwick was a Chief Commissioner on the Poor Law 
Commission, and in 1833 he was a member of the Central Board of 
the Factory Commission. For account of Sir Edwin Chadwick’s efforts, 
vide Dr. B. W. Richardson’s Health of Nations^ vol. i. See also 
Matthew Arnold, Reports on Elementary Schools (1889), pp. 58, 242. 


situation to tell us than most men* First of all there 
is a teacher of French rhetoric, and then a teacher 
of Latin rhetoric. The former teaches five, and the 
latter six hours a week. Then thie mathematical 
master has two hours, chemistry is contented with one 
hour, German or English (at choice) one hour also ; 
the history master takes three hours. Each of the six 
masters has a very full syllabus. For example, the 
master of French rhetoric does not merely teach 
rhetoric; he also gives a course in the history of 
French literature. Naturally the master of Latin 
rhetoric does the same with Latin literature. Then 
come the German and English masters, who teach the 
history of their respective literatures ; indeed, this is 
the best part of their work. It is agreed that if a boy 
wants to know English or German, he must learn it 
after having finished his other work. The history 
master teaches history and geography, but with such 
a wealth of detail and such marvellous erudition, that 
his teaching cannot possibly give any idea of, say, 
the ensemble of a country, nor of the sequence of 
events." What can the boys do in the presence of 
these six masters, who bring them a number of " theses 
on French authors, Latin authors, Greek authors, 
German authors;” interminable demonstrations in 
geometry and arithmetic ; the endless nomenclature 
of natural history, historical facts enough to make a 
Benedictine shudder.^ What better can be done for 
this boy with so many masters than to store up in his 
head with all rapidity these fine things? If he takes 
the trouble to ask his master a question on some point 

1 An allusion to the pedantry of the school-men. Vide Compayr^, 
Histoire Critique des Doctrines de V Education en France ( 1885 )* p* 7°. 


as it occurs, the answer is — ** Detail ! what more do 
you want? There is no time. There is no time. If 
the lad should ask his master to stop a moment and 
explain something to him, the master is already 
several ideas ahead — he would never catch up again 5 
his neighbour and competitor would have stored up a 
dozen ideas while he, poor fellow, was stopping at the 
first : he would be bottom of the class 1 When he is 
stuffed and crammed in this way, when he has piled 
up and pressed down all his mental stock, the moment 
comes when he has to admit — * there is no more 
room ! * but the master is behind him and cries — ^ A 
little courage 1 only about fifty more facts and a 
mere dozen or so of proofs.’ The net result is that 
our boys at the lyceums are crammed with ideas they 
do not understand, and with facts over which they 
have no control. Are the facts true? are the ideas 
false? That is not their business. They have to 
keep them in their heads, not to criticise them. A jury 
of masters is impanelled, gorgeous in rose or yellow 
silk hoods ; they summon the delinquents, and make 
them draw numbers by lot * Gentlemen, each num- 
ber has fifty facts to repeat’ If a candidate answers, 
' I know sixty ’ — which is very rare — he is hailed the 
first” And afterwards? — this bachelor, licentiate, or 
doctor, what is he? A store-house, with its boxes 
and shelves crammed with all sorts of ideas of which 
he does not know the value, and facts of which he 
does not know the authenticity; his memory is so 
overloaded that when he tries to live, dragging this 
load behind him, he spills the contents on his way 
through life. His memory becomes a blank ; but as 
it was cultivated at the expense of all else, and as it 
is clear the rest never existed, once his store is lost, 


he has no means of renewing it; he has neither 
energy nor method to study alone, nor judgment to 
see for himself and appreciate, nor will to form a 
resolution. He is a baccalaureics^ not a man ; for what 
is man, if he be not judgment and will ? And, adds 
Jules Simon, the master is himself the first victim of 
this mandarin system. They begin by imposing on 
him the programmes of work he imposes on the 
children ; and before robbing the latter of their 
liberty, they take very good care to deprive the 
former of it The greatest crime a master can com- 
mit in class is to be himself ; if he is so unfortunate 
as not to follow the syllabus exactly, and not to con- 
form blindly to official instructions and circulars, he 
is lost He is conceited, and will never get on, and is 
lucky if he does not lose his employment I do not 
attack him,” adds M, Simon ; on the contrary, I am 
sorry for him, for in reality he is not in the class-room, 
where he is nailed for four hours a day. The greatest 
reproach I can utter against this overpressure is 
that by oppressing the masters it suppresses them. 
I cannot help feeling that these boys who go from 
French Rhetoric to Latin Rhetoric, from German to 
History, from Chemistry to Mathematics, are left to 
themselves. They are not helped at all, because they 
are helped by too many people. There are professors, 
but no teachers ; there are students and an audience, 
but no scholars ; there is instruction, but no education. 
They make bachelors, licentiates, and doctors, but 
making a man is out of the question ; on the con- 
trary, they spend fifteen years in destroying his man- 
hood. What do they turn out for the community ? 
A ridiculous little mandarin, who has no muscles ; who 
cannot leap a gate ; who cannot give his elbows play, 


or fire a gun, or ride ; who is afraid of everything. But, 
on the other hand, he is crammed with every kind of 
useless knowledge ; he does not know the most neces- 
sary things ; he can neither give advice to anybody 
else nor to himself ; he needs guidance in everything ; 
and feeling his weakness, and having lost his leading- 
strings, he, as a last resource, throws himself into 
State socialism. The State must take me by the 
hand as the University has done up to now. It has 
taught me nothing but passive obedience. A citizen, 
did you say? I should perhaps be a citizen if I were 
a man.” 

We know that when the Acad6mie de Mddecine 
took up this question, M. Peter spoke very strongly 
on overpressure. The University course is not made 
for what may be termed the average intellectual 
capacity ; they rise above this average, and daily, 
under the pretext of completing the programmes, 
make them still more impossible. When a muscle is 
fatigued by excess, it becomes curved, owing to the 
accumulation of the products of disintegration ; simi- 
larly the brain, when fatigued' beyond measure, is 
exposed to the obstruction caused by the waste of 
life, to a real curvature. The first symptom of 
this state is violent headache. If this preliminary 
warning receives no attention, if the work goes 
on as before, if the curvature increases, the head- 
ache becomes periodic, more and more frequent, 
and becomes maddening from the continued intellec- 
tual strain. A kind of veil is drawn over the intellect, 
and the ideas get entangled. M, Peter sees an 
analogy between this and writei^s cramp in the 
muscle, a functional spasm affecting the brain. But 
this is only the beginning of pathological phenomena. 


Cerebral and intellectual overwork is almost non- 
existent in the primary schools.^ In secondary 

^ Overwork may exist in towns, but not in rural schools. In the 
latter the children do too little home-work, and are too often absent 
to feel brain fatigue. The dangers really existing in the village school 
do not arise from overpressure, but from staying in a necessarily 
vitiated atmosphere. That is the danger, and this is the remedy. Com- 
pel every backward and refractory commune to provide proper school 
buildings, large enough for the demand, and provided with good 
apparatus. On the other hand, I may append a few rules that, if 
followed, would prevent fatigue in the children in primary schools : — 
** Rules formulated by the Soci^t^ d’Hygi^ne de Geneve (J?avue Peda^ 
gogique^ March 15th). The first hours in morning school should be 
devoted to those subjects demanding most intellectual effort. Lessons 
should be broken off every hour for recreation, allowing each pupil 
opportunity for bodily exercise.” The regulations in France do not allow 
of recreation every hour ; but motions with the arms might be gone 
through, the children standing in their places. “ In general, the 
master should stop teaching as soon as he sees signs of fatigue or 
excitement in the children, and should let them rest a few moments. 
All lessons should be arranged so as to be alternately active or passive 
— /.A, the children should be called upon to speak, listen, and apply 
the teaching given. Long written exercises should be avoided. Child- 
ren should only be required to learn what they thoroughly understand. 
The home-lessons should be as limited as possible. They should be in 
proportion to the child’s J^e, they should be such as can be done with 
delight and pleasure, and should satisfy the demands of quality rather 
than of quantity. Impositions should as a rule be prohibited, and in 
any case should appeal to the intellect of the child.” 

The Academic de M^decine appointed a Commission to find a remedy 
fur intellectual overpressure. This Commission drew up a report; the 
principal items affecting primary education were as follows From 
three to eight hours per day, according to the child’s age, should be the 
limit of intellectual work. Twenty to thirty minutes should be the 
outside length of each lesson for children; the syllabus should be 
reduced in proportion to the length of the lessons and time of prepara- 
tion ; at present the examinations cover far too wide a ground, are too 
encyclopedic; partial and frequent examinations should be substituted 
for them, limiting the intellectual strain, and allowing the intellect time 
to assimilate the knowledge acquired. It is necessary to devote, 
according to age, from six to ten hours a day to physical exercise 
(games, walks, drill, etc.). 



schools it affects about one-third of the pupils, those 
who wish to reach the top of the class, who are pre- 
paring for an examination, or for entrance to a State 
school.^ But in spite of this a certain amount of 
overpressure obtains, even among the masters, and 
this is due to the length of the lessons, and to the 
sitting for too long a period in a close atmosphere. 
Even if they do nothing, it makes no difference ; the 
mere effort of sitting still fatigues and exhausts. 
Finally, it is very fortunate that there are idle people ; 
they save the race from too rapid degeneration. 

In England the number of hours of brain-work is 
about half as much as in France. The most hard- 
working schools require no more than seven or eight 
hours per day ; others are content with six. 

^ Although at the Central School of Arts and Manufactures the pupils 
work only seven hours at school, they have to work four or five hours, 
or even more, at home. In the Ecole Polytechnique, lessons and pre- 
paration last eleven hours and a half, and during the time allowed for 
recreation the hard-working pupils go to the library. In the lyceums 
for young girls, and in the classes for teachers, the work is equally 

When we see from 25,000 to 30,000 young men and women, with no 
means and unable to get work in spite of having had technical instruc- 
tion, we regret that with this instruction they were not taught a trade 
or handicraft, which, while preventing overpressure and a sedentary 
life during school-days, might have eventually placed them, if occasion 
arose, out of danger of want. “ As instruction in the army and the 
schools is compulsory,” says M. Lagneau, “ the Minister of War and 
the Minister of Education should arrange that gymnastics, fencing, 
swimming, riding, walking, the handling of arms, military manoeuvres, 
coming between the intellectual work of class and preparation, and 
preventing overwork and sedentary habits, should count with science 
and letters in the winning of diplomas and certificates, and should 
decrease the period of compulsory military service. But a law analo- 
gous to that of May 19th, 1874, is necessary, restraining excessive 
manual labour of children in factories, and equally restraining excessive 
intellectual labour of children and young people in all educational 


Germany also may be taken as a model, but not so 
much for reduction as for division of work. This 
accounts for Bersofs saying : “ When I saw the 
German lessons interrupted every hour or every three- 
quarters of an hour by recreation, I was ashamed of 
our barbarity in shutting up children in a class-room 
for three hours on end — ^three hours in the morning, 
and three in the afternoon — at an age which is intoxi- 
cated with life; and I cannot understand how it came 
about that French children — ^the most restless in the 
world — were ever subjected to this rSgimer Two 
private institutions, the Ecole Monge and the Ecole 
Alsacienne, have set the example. At the fecole 
Monge, for instance, the eleven and a half — nay, even 
twelve — ^hours per day of the boy at the lyceum are 
reduced to nine ; the younger boys only work seven 
hours and a half. The longest spell of work without 
a break is two hours and a half. Every boy at the 
Ecole Monge gives half-an-hour per day to gym- 
nastics ; this is three times more than is allowed in 
our lyceums.^ 

The advantage, in the competition of races and 
individuals alike, is not only, nor perhaps even 
mainly, on the side of superiority of knowledge ; it 
especially depends on the ample provision, natural or 
acquired, of physical energy and intellectual good 
sense, which alone can give knowledge its full 
value. Hence the Commission d’Hygi^ne, inspired 
by the example of the United States, is right in 
bearing in mind the American rule of the three 
eights — 8 hours sleep + 8 hours work + 8 hours 
freedom = 24 hours. " We think,'’ reported the Com- 

1 Vide M, Burdeau, V Ecole Monge, 


mission, “ that this is an excellent rule, and that eight 
hours’ work should be considered a maximum which 
the children of primary schools should never reach, 
and which the children of other schools should never 
exceed. The length of a lesson should be reduced to 
an hour and a half.”^ 

Games must be multiplied, and carried on with 
more life.^ 

Finally, it is all-important to encourage bodily 
exercise, so necessary for individual and race alike. 
In his Emile f Jean- Jacques Rousseau gave an 
impulse in favour of these exercises to a movement 
which was propagated especially in Germany, where, 
developed by national and warlike aspirations during 
the War of Independence, the present system of 
German gymnastics came into existence. To the 

^ Out of each lesson two hours long, at least from thirty-five to forty 
minutes are wasted. Further, the child of eleven and the youth of 
eighteen are subjected to the same rigime. Tasks and home-work in 
the lower classes are by an abuse made to fill up the whole of the 
child's day. Evening work begins about five and ends at half-past 
seven or a quarter to eight Two whole hours and a half are given up 
to an exercise, translation, or problem in mathematics. 

® They never play, at least in forms above the third; they 
walk round a dismal courtyard, generally treeless, from right to left — 
not from left to right — in certain lyceums, where gyratory motion 
sinistrorsum is considered as antagonistic to discipline. This is Dr, 
Gauthier’s statement They never sing; shouting is a breach of 
discipline, or barely tolerated; it fatigues the ears of the master, or 
whoever does the supervision. Games of ball, bowls, skipping, leap- 
frog, quoits, etc., etc., are quite unknown. The boys walk round and 
round the narrow cages known as the playground; ‘‘they crouch in 
the comers if it is cold or wet. Justly do the managers of sectarian 
schools prefer violent games in which the staff take part, to the 
malicious and suspicious gossip that goes on in other schools.” 
Further, this recreation time is only two and a half hours for the little 
fellows, and only an hour and a half for the bigger lx>ys. 

* Book ii.,^^wjf»7. (Tr.) 


latter system is now opposed a theoretical form of 
bodily exercise, — Swedish gymnastics, — of which the 
fundamental idea is the necessity of ‘‘confining 
exercise to movements, really very varied, but as 
simple as possible.” These movements, exercised 
against determinate resistances, ought “to methodically 
strengthen each individual muscle, and to enable the 
subject to attain the ideal of muscular development” 
German gymnastics have been attacked from the 
point of view of the English and their sports. Until 
quite recently the English have had nothing analo- 
gous to German gymnastics. Separated more than 
ever from the Continent during the French revolution 
and the Empire, they have been almost unaware of 
the movement initiated by Rousseau. The aspirations 
of Jahn, which bore more or less the stamp of German 
chauvinism, could find no entrance into England. 
But the English, as Dubois-Reymond points out, felt 
the need of gymnastics far less than continental 
nations. Thanks to the country life of the wealthy 
classes, and the common life of young people educated 
in the great public schools, the numerous contests and 
national games referred to above have been intro- 
duced, which, by the variety of the movements 
required, are an admirable exercise for the body : 
the English mountain-climbers who have ascended 
Chimborazo are an excellent instance in point. 
The impassioned interest exhibited throughout Great 
Britain in the annual boat-race between Oxford and 
Cambridge— the “dark-blues” and “light-blues”— 
can only be compared to the enthusiasm aroused in 
the Greeks by their national games ; it excites youth 
to greater efforts. 

If, with the knowledge we now have of the different 



kinds of bodily exercise, we proceed to form an 
opinion upon the relative value of the three forms — 
German gymnastics, Swedish gymnastics, and English 
sports, we may first of all remark that the second of 
the three is of little use in the bodily development 
of healthy youth. ^ Bodily exercise, says Dubois- 
Reymond, is not merely muscular exercise, as super- 
ficial observers wrongly suppose ; but it is what is of 
far greater importance — an exercise of the grey matter 
of the central nervous system. This alone condemns 
the Swedish system from the physiological point of 
view. The system may strengthen the muscles, but it 
does not give facility in complex movements. “ We 
may even suppose the case of a physical training 
which would give to the muscles of a Caspar Hauser 
gigantic strength, while at the same time the victim 
of the experiment would be unable even to walk. 
Swedish gymnastics are only valuable from the 
therapeutic point of view, to preserve or re-establish 
the activity of certain groups of muscles (for very few 
muscles can be contracted singly by mere will),” ^ 

As for the relative value of German gymnastics and 
English games, the latter correspond in a certain 
measure to the requirements deduced from physio- 
logical analysis. They make men skilful in running, 
leaping, dancing, wrestling, riding, swimming, rowing, 
and skating. But, according to Dubois-Reymond, 
German gymnastics afford the possibility of giving 
to an unlimited number of pupils, of every age and 
condition, the opportunity of exercise with almost a 

^ Vide Article on “ Gymnastics,” of EduceUion^ March 

1891. (Tr.) 

2 Dubois-Reymond, VExerdee . — Vide Lagrange, JO Hygiene de 
VExercice^ 1890, part v., chap, i., pp. 273-286. (Tr.) 

The question of overpressure. 145 

ftiinimum of apparatus, and independent of condi- 
tions which are often impossible to obtain; and 
further, it has the moral advantage of an effort which 
has as its object “ self-perfection as an ideal end, with- 
out any immediate utility, — clearly resembling in this 
the intellectual education Which obtains in the German 
gymnasiums;” in fact, the intelligent choide of German 
exercises, confirmed and corrected by experience, 
leads to a much greater uniformity in the develop- 
ment of the body than could be attained if the 
individual, as in England, obeying his inclinations, and 
determined by any circumstance whatever, devoted 
himself, according to his caprice and with the eager- 
ness given by ambition, to rowing, or riding, or tennis, 
or climbing mountains. A youth trained by the 
German method possesses the great advantage of 
being master of forms of movement adapted to each 
position of the body, just as the thoroughly-grounded 
mathematician is provided with methods for the 
solution of every problem. Besides, nothing prevents 
the German gymnast from passing from his theoreti- 
cal exercises to any practical exercise of immediate 
utility. “As he has learned how to learn, he will 
rapidly acquire the utmost skill attainable from his 
natural disposition, just as we are told the student 
from the gymnasium very soon catches up to the 
technical student in the laboratory.” 

Moreover, all bodily exercises are in favour among 
the Germans ; riding, cycling, boating, and fencing 
are much more popular than in France ; the State 
compels two hours a day to be given up in all schools 
to plxysical exercise under the direction of a special 
teacher. At Berlin, gymnastics are under the care of 
a Superintendent, just as we have a Head of the 




University in Paris. In Germany they feel that A 
race without muscles, with nothing but nerves, a race 
in which cerebral activity is dominant, is but ill 
equipped in the struggle for existence.^ 

English games do not deserve the strictures passed 
upon them by Dubois-Reymond as compared with 
the more scientific s^^stem of the Germans ; the latter 
is far too much like a lesson. “ In this, as in other 
cases, to remedy the evils of one artificiality, another 
artificiality has been introduced. Natural spontaneous 
exercise having been forbidden, and the bad conse- 
quences of no exercise having become conspicuous, 
a system of what Spencer calls ‘ factitious exercise ’ 
has been adopted. That this is better than nothing 
we admit but that it is an adequate substitute for 
games we deny.’’ The defects of gymnastic exercises 
“are both positive and negative. In the first place, 
these formal muscular motions, necessarily less varied 
than those accompanying juvenile sports, do not 
secure so equable a distribution of action to all parts 
of the body; whence it follows that the exertion 
falling on special parts produces fatigue sooner than 
it would else have done; to which, in passing, let 
us add, that if constantly repeated, this exertion of 
special parts leads to a disproportionate development.® 
The quantity of exercise thus taken will be deficient, 
and that not merely in consequence of uneven dis- 
tribution ; for there will be a further deficiency in 
consequence of lack of interest. Even when not 
made ^ repulsive, as they sometimes are, by being 
to all intents and purposes lessons^ these monotonous 

^ Vide Gambon, De Vrance en Alletftagne* 

® Vide Dubois-Reymond. 

* Vide Lagrange, IJ Hygiene et P Exercice^ part v., chap. ii. (Tr.) 


tnovements are sure to become wearisome from the 
absence of amusement Competition, it is true, serves 
as a stimulus ; but it is not a lasting stimulus, like 
the enjoyment accompanying varied play. . . . Besides 
being inferior in respect of the quantity of muscular 
exertion which they secure, gymnastics are still more in- 
ferior in respect of the quality. This comparative want 
of enjoyment which we have named as a cause of early 
desistance from artificial exercises, is also a cause of 
inferiority in the effects they produce on the system. 
The common assumption, that so long as the amount 
of bodily action is the same, it matters not whether it 
be pleasurable or otherwise, is a grave mistake. An 
agreeable mental excitement must have a highly 
invigorating influence. See the effect produced on 
an invalid by good news, or by the visit of an old 
friend. Mark how careful medical men are to recom- 
mend lively society to debilitated patients. Remem- 
ber how beneficial to health is the gratification 
produced by change of scene. The truth is that 
happiness is the most powerful of tonics. By accel- 
erating the circulation of the blood, it facilitates the 
performance of every function, and so tends alike to 
increase health when it exists and to restore it when 
it has been lost Hence the intrinsic superiority of 
play to gymnastics. The extreme interest felt by 
children in their games, and the riotous glee with 
which they carry on their rougher frolics, are of as 
much importance as the accompanying exertion. And, 
as not supplying these mental stimuli, gymnastics 
must be radically defective. Granting then, as we do, 
that formal exercises of the limbs are better than 
nothing — granting, further, that they may be used 
with advantage as supplementary aids ; we yet 



contend that they can never serve in place of exercises 
prompted by Nature. For girls, as well as boys, 
the sportive activities to which the instincts impel arc 
essential to bodily welfare.”^ 

In France we have gone too far in making 
gymnastics military. Under the influence of a 
certainly noble, but too technical idea, there is an 
increasing tendency to militarise education. What 
we may call military sport as opposed to games, says 
M. de Coubertin, will never make good citizens. The 
numerous sporting and gymnastic societies founded 
since the war form, we cannot deny, a valuable 
training-school in patriotism and discipline ; but, on 
the other hand, the military apparatus with which 
they are surrounded is likely to give rise to narrow 
views, and to stamp out that individual initiative, the 
development of which should have been their main 
object. The two or three aquatic societies at Paris 
are far more useful in this respect than the thirty- 
three gymnastic societies with their 3041 members in 
the twenty arrondissements of our metropolis.^ 

M, de Laprade asked with justifiable amazement 
how it is that as the Greeks are deemed worthy of 
imitation in their poetry, sculpture, philosophy, and 
politics, we have run counter to their system on the 
very point in which it was best — the physical educa- 
tion of the young. If we reduce the hours of work 
to eight, and allow an hour and a half for meals, 
there are still three hours and a half for recreation and 
two for gymnastics. Games must be once more placed 
in an impregnable and honourable position. After 
borrowing the boarding-school from the Jesuits, we 

^ Spencer, MduccUion, pp. 171, 172. (Tr.) 

® IJ Education en Angieierre, 


should be wrong not to borrow also its corrective, 
which they have had the wisdom to keep. In former 
days games and bodily exercise had, in fact, an 
important place in their colleges. The Jesuit schools 
are almost the only schools in which the children 
play and run as of old. “That is the education I 
want to borrow from the reverend fathers,’' says M. 
Legouv6, “ the education of the legs.” 

Unfortunately it is useless to tell children to play ; 
what indeed can they play at in playgrounds too 
small for one-sixth of their number ? M. Dupanloup 
tells us that a boy said to him one day : “ If only 
you knew, sir, how it bores us to amuse ourselves that 
way !” However, things are so; and now they even 
set a game (just like a lesson), and give tasks and 
punishments to children who do not take part in 
them, or who do not enter into them with sufficient 
zest. Which is certainly delightfully ingenuous. 
Hence, to avoid undeserved punishment, the children 
learn hypocrisy, and pretend to play till the super- 
vision master has turned his back and they can renew 
the interrupted conversation. 

At the lyceum, gymnastics take place during re- 
creation hours, and as to each trapeze there are many 
boys, each pupil scarcely has a chance of turning 
more than one somersault per day, and of course 
none on Thursday and Sunday. “Why then,” asks 
M. Coubertin, “ is not the gymnasium always open, 
giving every boy an opportunity of exercising his 
biceps when he takes it into his head ?” 

In summer there are cold baths — lasting for two 
months; the rest of the year there are no baths. 
One college has a swimming bath — the lyceum 
at Vanves, a school remarkably well organised. 



Unfortunately this bath, not being covered, is unused 
in winter. Take a corresponding instance in England. 
“At Harrow,” says M. Coubertin, “each of the five 
hundred boys pays about twelve francs a year towards 
the bath : this is not dear.” To return to games — 
the exercise par excellence — on the rare occasions on 
which French schoolboys have been left undisturbed 
to join in any game whatever, the zest with which 
they • engaged in their amusement has been very 

What our schoolboys lack is not ardour for games, 
but sufficient space for their gambols. That is the 
real difficulty. Land is always dear in the towns ; but, 
as has been remarked, nothing prevents provincial 
schools from taking the country itself as their play- 
ground. As for Paris, the State might well allot the 
necessary space on public ground, and the railway 
companies would issue tickets to squads from the 
lyceums at reduced fares.! 

IV. Manual Work in Schools. 

As in the case of games, manual labour has its 
hygienic effect, and serves the race in the individual 
In England there are workshops everywhere, in which 
boys engage in different kinds of manual labour, 
carpentry and metallurgy, under the direction of a 

^ Since this book was written, M. Philippe Daryl has written an excel- 
lent book on games and the Renaissance Physique^ and a society has 
been formed for the physical education of the young. The Minister 
has appointed a Commission to investigate the subject. A summary of 
the report of the Commission will be found in the Joimtal of Educa^ 
tion for March 1891. ( Tr. ) 


skilled workman.^ This is the realisation of the wish 
of Jean-Jacques Rousseau but the latter was guided 
in its expression by a sentiment of poetry and 
equality, whereas the English had merely “the practical 
side of the question in view— viz., the advantage of 
manual training in fashioning wood and iron.” The 
young Americans who, in the University of Ithaca, 
read high mathematics, philosophy, or history, feel 
no shame at spending several hours of every day 
in honourably earning the necessary funds for the 
acquisition of that knowledge which may in the 
future lead them to the highest posts in the State. 
In 1870 about fifty of the students took advantage 
of the opportunity afforded them. The University 
paid £600 for the results of their work, and the 
professors noticed that those who devoted themselves 
to physical labour had profited by the lectures equally 
with the rest of their fellow-students. Three hours of 
manual labour were by no means adverse to mental 
work. In French primary schools manual training 
has been introduced, and the official instructions have 
advised the teachers that this new subject, clearly 
conceived apart from all professional prospects, ought 
pre-eminently to have as its object the giving to the 
child manual dexterity in the elementary use of 
tools, refinement of taste, and a knowledge of the 
material world around it.^ “ Manual labour,” said 
Emerson, “is the study of the external world.” By 
manual labour in the schools we usually understand 
the use of the principal tools in the working of iron 

^ This statement, it is to be hoped, will be literally true— after 
England has her IntermediaU Act. (Tr.) 

^ Evtile, bk. iii. (Tr.) 

^ Compayr^, Organisation Pdda^o^t^ue pp 41, 178. (Tr.) 


and wood. The real object of this work, as introduced 
in general education, is not to teach the child a 
given profession, but simply to develop his intellectual, 
aesthetic, and physical faculties, his knowledge of real 
things, and his skill. The carpenter*s shop and the 
blacksmith’s forge may be employed in their educa- 
tion without our wishing to turn out a carpenter 
or a blacksmith. Its result ought especially to be 
to familiarise the pupil with the properties of wood 
and iron, to accustom his eye and hand to work 
together, to accustom him to accurate measurements, 
in fact, to teach him to fashion an object by the aid 
of his tools and with delicate taste, with no help 
but a given design. The discipline of the workshop 
ought to be considered as complementary to that 
of the drawing-class; they are inseparable; one gives 
the knowledge of /arm, the other familiarises with 
matter. To suppose that the best teaching is what we 
get from books is what Spencer calls a '^prejudice of 
the Middle Ages.’ 

As a matter of fact, all games become work when 
children wish to succeed in them. The first work 
that little children do is play. Play gives us an 
opportunity of judging their character and of 
developing it in the direction of perseverance and 
active energy. The ideal is the most frequent 
possible blending of work and play, of recreation 
and instruction. 

The holidays ought to afford the opportunity for 
bodily exercise and for walking, especially in the 
mountains, where the air is pure. '‘Among them,” 
says Tyndall, « I annually renew my lease of life, 
and restore the balance between mind and body 
which the purely intellectual discipline of London 



is calculated to destroy.”^ With the object of 
amusing and occupying young people in a reason- 
able manner during two months’ holiday, the French 
Alpine Club has organised caravams scolaires with 
the following object: — “To bring together young 
people of the same age, to carry them up into the 
mountains face to face with the noblest sights of 
nature; by walks together, knapsack on back and 
iron-shod stick in hand, to prepare them for the trials 
of the year’s voluntary military service, and even for 
the fatigues of war ; to guarantee to them during the 
expedition the careful superintendence of an expe- 
rienced master, and lessons in physics, geology, and 
botany, given in the open air and under the blue 
sky, during the halts ; to amuse the mind without 
ceasing to instruct it; to elevate the mind and at 
the same time strengthen the body.” Many large 
schools have already adopted this course, and have 
instituted travels during the long and short vacations. 
Beside being an admirable application of hygienic 
principles, there is underlying all this a moral and 
patriotic idea. Unfortunately these expeditions, 
being rather costly, are not within the reach of 
every purse.^ 

M. Cottinet conceived the idea of taking the 
children for a month into the country or to the 
seaside, without its costing their parents anything, 
thanks to voluntary subscriptions. He tells us that 
experience showed that this mere month in the 

1 Vide Mountaineering, (Tr.) 

® The pupils at the ^cole Normale Sup^rieure are encouraged to spend 
their vacations at various laboratories on the French coast — Rpscoff, 
Banyuls, Concarneau, Wimereux, Saint- Waast, etc. Vide an interest- 
ing account from the pen of Dr. Houssay, Revue Internationale de 
r Rnseignement^ April 1891. (Tr.’l 


country effected an heroic cure. “ Two things have 
been ascertained with equal certainty : before the 
departure for the country the weight and chest 
measurement of these children was lamentably below 
the average for their age; on their return the pro- 
portion was reversed ; they had gained five, ten, and 
even twenty times the normal increase during that 
period ! ” 

The teacher in charge of the boys’ colony at 
Bussang has introduced an improvement into the 
hygienic register of results obtained. This is an 
individual statement on the physical condition of 
each child. This statement is based upon the 
declarations of the parents and of the head-master 
of the child’s school, and upon a thorough medical 
examination before leaving home. It is completed 
upon their return by a comparison of the results 
obtained. If the doctors attached to our primary 
schools would adopt and generalise this method, if 
they would introduce for each child a health sheets 
to be revised monthly or quarterly, great progress 
would be made. We could keep an account of 
what the children gain in health and strength — the 
two elements of wealth to the individual and the 

The reorganisation of physical education in France 
is all the more important because of the physical 
degeneration of the race. Heredity will, if we do 
not take care, eventually bring on progressive de- 
generation, and our intellect, far from gaining, will 
lose by it. Being an intellectual people, we have 
a superstitious belief in intellectual instruction. We* 
must be cured of it and be convinced that a robust 
and productive man is much more important to the 


race than a man who has furnished his memory with 
a mass of mostly useless knowledge. 

V. The Physical Progress of the Race^ and the Growth 
of Population, 

With the question of heredity and education are 
closely connected the questions of physical fertility 
and population, in so far as they are subject to the 
will of man, his beliefs, ideas, and his real or apparent 
interests. This question is of capital importance to 
the French nation. I have already treated it fully 
elsewhere, but I must here again lay emphasis upon 
the momentous character of the danger which 
threatens us. 

At the last census taken in Germany, December 
1885, the population of the new Empire reached the 
total of 46,855,704. In 1870 the number on the same 
territory was only 40,816,249. If we take into account 
the number of emigrants and the birth-rate, the 
effective increase reaches the total of 535,444. So 
that in one year the population of the German 
Empire increases by more than half a million. Let 
us suppose this movement to continue with the pro- 
portional increase of the decennial period 1871 to 
1880, and in barely sixty years the present population 
would be doubled. After the wars of the first Empire, 
in 1816, the countries of the Germanic Confederation, 
which now form part of United Germany, had a com- 
bined population of twenty-four millions'. They will 
have a hundred and seventy millions at the end of the 
next century, with a density of 525 per square mile, 
as against 130 in 1880, without territorial increase. 


Compared with the progress of the German Empire, 
the population of France is almost stationary, barely 
reaching the total of 37,321,186 from the census of 
i88r, as against 32,569,223 in 1831. There is only 
an annual increase of 0,2 per cent in the interval of 
the two last quinquennial returns — that is to say, six 
or seven times less than the numerical increase of the 
Germans. This is a momentous fact, and well worthy 
of the attention not only of statisticians, but especially 
of statesmen anxious concerning the future ; for when 
a nation ceases to advance, it lags behind, and allows 
political preponderance to pass into the hands of 
more vigorous races. 

Mr. Myers, criticising the chapters relating to popu- 
lation in my Irr£igion de V Avenir^ attributes to 
“modern French pessimism” a depressing influence 
upon the growth of population in France. I do not 
quite understand the sterilising influence thus attri- 
buted to pessimism. We may ask ourselves if 
pessimism, once become general in a nation, can of 
itself be the cause of infecundity. The Chinese and 
Japanese have been cradled from their infancy in the 
idea that all existence is nothing; moreover, they 
have no doctrine based upon immortality; Buddhism 
is on this point more negative than positive, but they 
breed none the less. This is because they have a 
family cult, like the ancient Jews, who also had no 
distinct belief in immortality.^ In this problem what 

1 Is there even such a thing as ‘"modern French pessimism”? I do not 
know whether it would not have been better to have said modem pessu 
mism in France. No doubt pessimism did exist at a certain period, and 
still exists in a fashion in Parisian salons, where a number of used-up 
and dissipated rakes eagerly assume this serious name. But not a single 
philosopher, from Taine, Renouvier, Ravaisson, to Fouill^e and Ribot, 
has defended pessimism. M, Zola, a novelist, a powerful genius, but 



ought to particularly engage our interest is the mental 
attitude of the masses, especially of the peasants, who 
alone populate or depopulate a country. 

Now the French peasant is anything but a pessi- 
mist He, as it has been said, is remarkable for 
taking life on the best side. Moreover, the majority 
of the French nation have kept a basis of spiritualism, 
and if the peasant has often rejected religious 
dogmas, he regards with none the less awe the great 
problem of death ; the most sceptical will tell you in 
his own simple language that burying a dog is not 
the same thing as burying a man ; death in his 
opinion should be accompanied by words of hope, 
and therein he thinks lies the utility of the priest 
And this state of things is a growth of the present 
day. But it is quite true to say that these principles 
— respect for death and wavering belief in immortality 

with tendencies sombre and often obscene, has made it his business 
to summon up in his works more or less horrible images, but that is an 
individual case, and a matter of artistic rather than philosophic doctrine. 
No doubt M. Renan will be quoted to me, but that admirable writer, if 
he had his pessimistic days, appears now to be converted to optimism. 
Perhaps in his more confidential moods he will tell us that the 
truth lies between the two, and that we might well sustain the 
two theses successively. In poetry our greatest name, Victor Hugo, 
is anything but that of a pessimist, or even of a sceptic. He has 
always struggled with might and main against sceptical ideas. This 
is perhaps not the case with the great English poets, Byron and 
Shelley, with Heine in Germany, and Leopardi in Italy. The petae 
mtnores may be quoted to me — Madame Ackermann, Baudelaire, and 
Richepin. But Madame Ackermann, who has written verses, pessi- 
mistic, well thought out but a trifle declamatory, and Baudelaire— 
who seems to have really had a craze — are only read by a limited circle. 
As for M. Richepin, how can we take that skilful verse-maker and 
rhetorician seriously? We read him in the same frame of mind as that 
in which we watch a very clever juggler. His pessimism is nothing but 
** matter'' for French verses, as if it were the subject for Latin verses 
at the lyceum and Nicole normale.. 



— taken in connection with the real failing of the 
French peasant (who is a very deliberate cal- 
culator, and growing more and more deliberate), 
are not enough to carry him forward to that 
practical and perhaps rather unexpected conclusion — 
not easily referable to its premises — “increase and 
multiply.” From the moment that economical and 
social motives are placed in the first line, the question 
of fecundity becorhes pre-eminently an object of 
economic and social reform, a matter of both moral 
and public education. 

It is necessary in public education not to openly 
discuss the question of wilful infecundity, but to show 
the advantage to the race, the country, and the family 
of a large population. The numbers I have just 
given of the population of Germany are in themselves 
eloquent enough. Economic, moral, and social pre- 
judices have yet to be dissipated in France — and the 
economists have had no small share in the dissemina- 
tion of those prejudices. It is not difficult in the 
primary schools and lyceuiiis, in the teaching of 
geography and political economy, to lay great weight 
on the element of power, intellectual wealth, and 
social selection, that is brought to a State by a large 
population. By holding meetings of soldiers, or 
workmen, or peasants, we have the opportunity of 
pointing out these advantages ; there is no need 
whatever to enter into details that may outrage 
modest ears. All we have to do is to accustom 
every mind to think upon the future of the nation 
and of the race. 



I. The object and method of intellectual education. 

II. Methods of teaching — Cultivation of attention — Intuition and 
action — Memory — Prejudices with respect to cultivation of the memory. 

III. Choice of subjects— Distinction between really useful knowledge 
and mere accomplishments. 

I. The Object and Method of Intellectual Education. 

The education of childhood and early youth is not 
and ought not to be pursued except for its own sake. 
If we start from the principle that every human 
faculty exists in the brain of a child, the object of 
education will be to favour the normal, complete, and 
harmonious development of each and all of those 
faculties, which, as some one has said, will soon 
enough have their equilibrium disturbed by life 

It is of the utmost importance that at the moment 
of taking a decisive step in life a young man should 
be well aware of what he is and all that he is, in order 
that he may not follow one path more than another, 
or abandon himself to the dominant faculty, if he has 
one, without, so to speak, full knowledge of the reason 
why. Besides, from the point of view of that very 
faculty, the most favourable condition for its 
dominance is that it should feel itself sustained, 


or as it were furthered, by every other faculty. In a 
word, education prepares the soil ; the seed will be 
sown at a later period when the time arrives for 
professional education ; but for the seed to rise, the 
ground as a whole must be prepared, for who can tell 
the exact spot where it will germinate ? 

In education the first place must be awarded to the 
common interests of the individual and the species, 
to what can develop simultaneously the intensity and 
expansion of life. We must not consider the indi- 
vidual solely in himself, as a point in space, in abstrac- 
tion from the moral and intellectual atmosphere in 
which he is completely immersed, and which is per- 
haps, equally with the terrestrial atmosphere, the very 
condition of his being. If the first necessity is to live, 
surely the second is to obtain the means of so doing 
— ie,, of adapting himself to his environment. Now, 
man being made to live among men, we cannot go too 
far in the process of moulding the child for social life, 
in counteracting his egoistic instincts, when they first 
unfold, by the development of altruistic and social 
instincts, which ought to play some day so important 
a part in his individual life. Now, if pre-eminent . 
importance is attached to the interests common to the 
individual and the species, what are those interests ? 
The preservation of the individual is certainly indis- 
pensable to the species, and education ought to tend 
to ensure the maintenance, the development, and 
energy of physical life, because upon it depends the 
hereditary vigour of the race. It is therefore, one may 
say, the primary necessity, the basis of all others ; 
hence the importance of gymnastics and hygiene so 
fully appreciated by the Greeks, and so neglected by 
us. But here a possible antinomy may be pointed 


out between interests of the body and those of intel- 
lectual work in a certain select class. The theory of 
evolution itself admits that the progress of the species 
is accomplished at the expense of a certain number of 
individuals. To produce a Pascal or a Newton we 
must make up our minds to a certain bodily wear and 
tear resulting from study. But that is, on the whole, 
the exception, and the good health of the race, its 
vigour and physical energy, are a preliminary condi- 
tion for the production of exceptional genius. 

After physical development, or even before if 
required, we should place moral development, which is 
the supreme end of the individual, and the essential 
condition of social existence. We must fully recognise 
that in our system of education we take as little care of 
moral as of physical development ; our pupils become 
moral or immoral, if left to themselves, j’ust as they 
are left to themselves to become healthy or unhealthy. 
No use is made of systematic means, no method is 
employed from the early years of the child in moralisa- 
tion ; we give instruction and trust to the moral 
virtue of instruction. Now this virtue is not always 
as great as we imagine, at least in the case of the 
object of knowledge properly so called. Arithmetic, 
physics, and chemistry have no power to form the 

Further, we ought to place aesthetic before 
intellectual and scientific instruction, because the 
beautiful lies nearest to the good, and because 
aesthetics, art, literature, and what have been so well 
called the humanities, are the least indirect influences 
making for morality. Intellectual and scientific 
instruction properly so called must therefore take up 
an inferior position to the others. 


i 62 


In intellectual instruction we may have three ends in 
view : either to elevate the mind and to make it look 
at everything from a higher standpoint, or to apply 
it to some practical end, such as a trade, bread- 
winning, etc. ; or simply to furnish it, like a draw- 
ing-room, with splendid hangings, Chinese pottery, 
and Japanese lacquer- work. The latter end is most 
often aimed at nowadays ; instruction is becoming a 
matter of dress — coquetry in the young girl and vanity 
in the young man. This is a grievous deviation 
from the right path. The true object of intellectual 
education is to instil, with the least possible expendi- 
ture of energy, the greatest number of generous and 
fruitful ideas. Once the brain of each individual has 
been moulded for good, heredity will fix a greater 
cerebral capacity in the race. Education and heredity, 
here as elsewhere, will be complementary. 

II. Methods of Teaching. 

Psychologists have shown that the physical 
expression of the sentiments, imitated by reflection, 
engenders the sentiments themselves, and we 
have seen that these sentiments are propagated 
by suggestion. Thus it is easy for a master who 
takes pleasure in the company of his pupils to 
communicate his pleasure to them. The interest 
that he manifests in what he says or does, or in the 
work that he makes them do, is communicated to all 
by sympathy. Silence leads by suggestion to silence. 
The example of order forms habits of order. We 
cannot help working when every one is working around 


US. The nerves are excited by the attitude of those 
at work. Eventually they reach that point at which 
inaction becomes suffering. As Herbart says, “ there 
is no well-behaved child who will refuse to work when 
all around him are full of emulation and eagerness in 
their work.’' 

It is therefore less difficult than is generally 
believed to produce in the young child a love of 
work. Besides, the slight distaste that he sometimes 
shows for it at first is rather due to a want of habit 
and method than to idleness properly so called. We 
should, to begin with, develop the faculty of obser- 
vation by object lessons: concrete facts should be 
presented before abstract truths ; we should try to 
make the acquirement of knowledge pleasurable. 
The common characteristic of modern methods lies 
in the endeavour to conform education to the natural 
progress of evolution in the child ; which, however, 
does not at all imply a system of complete laissez- 
faire, the child wanting the intellectual nourishment 
prepared for it and presented to it in a certain order. 
The general principles of education which, according 
to Spencer, may be regarded as established, are the 
following: — ist The mind proceeds from the simple 
to the complex. 2nd. The mind advances from 
the indefinite to the definite. 3rd. The individual 
development of the child reproduces the phases of 
the historic development of mankind. 4th. The 
process of self-development should be encouraged to 
the uttermost Sth. Intellectual activity is in itself 
pleasurable, and well-directed study ought to be 
productive of interest and not distaste. In a word, 
the acquisition of knowledge ought to be the result of 
the spontaneous activity of the child ; the normal 

i 64 education and heredity, 

exercise of the faculties being in itself pleasurable, 
study, if well directed, should be interesting. 

However, here again we must avoid excess. To 
change work into a mere game, to instruct in play, is 
a bad preparation for life. Is life a game? Kant 
was right when he said — “ It is a fatal thing to 
accustom the child to look at everything as a game. 
... It is of the utmost importance to teach children 
to work; for man is the only animal compelled to 
work.” Spencer himself takes as his higher criterion 
of the good method, pleasurable excitement in the 
child; — interest and admiration certainly, but plea- 
sure, amusement? . . . Far from subordinating 
work to pleasure, the child must find its pleasure in 
work itself, in the exercise of its faculties and in the 
sense of duty accomplished. Life is nothing but 
work^ submission to rules ; do not represent it to 
children as a game of bowls or ninepins : this would 
have a demoralising effect, and instead of making 
men, would send out into society mere overgrown 
children. The man who can do nothing but play, 
and judges everything by the pleasure it gives him, is 
an egoist and an idle fellow. 

Again, play itself demands a certain amount of 
work. For we must not forget that the pleasure of 
play rapidly becomes interest in difficulties to be 
overcome, as we may see from the fact that immedi- 
ately a game has ceased to be difficult it has very 
often ceased to amuse. We have therefore simply to 
bring the child to apply to a serious task the whole 
attention, perseverance, and continuity in the thread 
of his ideas, which he has naturally and gradually 
brought to bear upon his games. Finally, to teach 
him to interest himself in everything, is to teach him 



to persevere — to be familiar with exertion, and to 
exercise will : it is to moralise him as much as to 
instruct him. 

The cultivation of the attention is the secret of all 
intellectual training. Attention produces the more 
or less systematic grouping of representations and 
ideas, so that not one remains isolated within us, but 
each rather attracts and awakens similar and logically 
or aesthetically analogous images and ideas. Inat- 
tention, on the other hand, consists in the abortive 
birth of each representation which passes through us 
and dies away without having given rise to a per- 
manent grouping. Attention, therefore, is as much a 
question of method as of natural intellectual power. 
To have the habit of attention is simply to have the 
habit of not permitting an important state of con- 
sciousness to miscarry without having linked itself to 
others, without having created a kind of psychic 

Attention is order and earnestness of thought The 
woof of our ideas must not be broken ; we must be like 
the weaver who works in the broken thread. There 
are minds, it is true, in which the thread is constantly 
being broken, but in almost every case the threads 
may be joined with a little effort It is a question of 
will, and attention thus appears to be elementary 
morality; in fact it is the morality of the intellect, 
the art of conduct in the inward sphere of action. 
Attention is only perseverance applied to something. 
Accordingly, before the intellectual faculties are de- 
veloped in the child, it is of importance to encourage 
the habit of perseverance, which in the sequel will be 

^ Vide Paulhan, Re^tte ScienHfique^ 28th May 1887. 



manifested in the sphere of ideas. The child must 
have already acquired a certain sequence in its actions 
and in its duties before it acquires that sequence later 
on in its thoughts. “ He was only unhappy when he 
was thinking,” says Voltaire of Candide; and he adds, 
it is so with most men.” Would it, then, be supreme 
happiness not to think? No! Supreme happiness 
consists in being master of one’s thoughts, and in 
knowing how to direct them, which is the most 
difficult thing in the world. We get the habit of 
being superficial as we get any other habit ; it is 
merely a lack of attention and courage; a fault as 
much moral as intellectual; a fault which may be 
corrected by the power of the will. 

Attention directed towards an end produces method. 
It is a law that any work whatever tends to be 
regular and methodic in proportion as it exacts a 
larger expenditure of energy — a greater tension ; now 
intellectual work exacts from the organism an expendi- 
ture not only the most costly, but the slowest to be 
repaired : it is therefore the work that should be per- 
formed in the most regular and methodic fashion. 
As of all our activities it is the least mechanical, and 
the furthest removed from reflex actions, it should, 
by way of compensation, be accomplished in more 
regular hours; it should have the characteristics of a 
normal exercise of the activity, which daily finds in 
the internal budget the income corresponding to the 
required outlay. All derangement in intellectual 
work kills the individual, and has a still more fatal 
effect upon his descendants. Hence the dangers of the 
artist’s life, which is so often a Bohemian existence. 
The most productive intellects in science, and even in 
art, have often been those whose work was as regular 


as that of a machine, with the necessary intervals for 
sufficient rest. 

As it is necessary to develop the attention, espe- 
cially by requiring continuity of thought, so it is of 
equal importance not to overwork it The best type 
of the way in which the very young child ought to 
learn many things without fatigue, is the way in 
which it learns its mother-tongue, only listening to 
the continuous sound of the words uttered around it 
when it is so disposed; letting the words enter its 
head rather than placing them there; letting them be 
driven into its brain like nails by repeated impact. 
The attention is not developed if we fatigue it, for in 
that case there is injury to the general state of health. 
A child passes a more or less lengthy period in 
learning a lesson ; we think it is attentive, and it 
fancies itself that it is ; but in reality it is learning it 
by the help of only a few moments of real attention : 
the rest is lost time. The ideal of good education is 
to increase the intensity of attention, and to diminish 
the time that is given neither to attention nor to 
complete and thoroughly healthy repose ; it is inten- 
sive cultivation, the ground not being allowed to lie 
fallow. When we demand too long an effort of 
attention from the child, we exhaust it unprofitably. 
But by keeping it in the society of intellectual people 
whose thoughts are connected, we may accustom 
the child not to range from one subject to another, 
and we may keep its mind within a circle of given 
ideas, without allowing it to fly off suddenly at a 
tangent. To dig the earth at any fixed point it is 
unnecessary to give fifty blows per minute with the 
pick; we may take our time over it; the essential 
thing is that each blow shall be directed to the right 


Spot. The deviation of attention being always more 
or less proportional to the curiosity aroused, we 
can increase very largely the duration of atten- 
tion by widening the sphere of curiosity. Just 
as we make the attention more permanent, and 
thus ensure its exercise, we strengthen immensely 
by that exercise the faculty of attention itself. 
The duration of attention is, in fact, the measure 
of its power, and is one of the means of its 

The method of teaching by object lessons has been 
adopted in our schools ; but to make the children see 
things is not all ; we must make them understand, 
reason, and act ; the eyes ought not to be a con- 
venient substitute for the intellect, but a factor in its 
development There is a better method than teaching 
by sight, and that is teaching by action : to make the 
children do for themselves what we arc at present con- 
tented with showing them. This method appears 
much preferable; action is a concrete reasoning, which 
simultaneously engraves the ideas in the mind and in 
the fingers. In America, instead of making the child 
understand on paper the working of a steam engine, 
he is given a miniature model ; he has to take it to 
pieces, put it together again, and thus make the 
machine himself. Tyndall, the eminent English 
physicist, has written a delightful volume on elec- 
tricity, to show how a child of ordinary intelligence 
may construct for itself, at the cost of a few shillings, 
most of the ordinary apparatus employed in electrical 
experiments. The initiative of the child must be 
cultivated by every possible means. It must be done 
even in class by oral and written exercises, by sum- 
maries, written or viva voce, etc. The maieutic is the 

Methods of teaching. 


best method of education whenever it is possible,^ 
What is essential, is to provoke the desire for action 
and activity itself. Everywhere and always we see 
among us the triumph of mnemotechnical methods — 
the false knowledge so neatly termed psittacism by 
Leibnitz. What is the end of man ? To be a man, in 
its true and full sense; to bring into play all that is in 
human nature. What ways and means have we for 
this purpose? Action. Thus wrote Voltaire in 1727, 
renewing the philosophy of energy and action, the 
fundamental doctrine of antiquity, the tradition of 
Greece. The same idea, pointed out by Locke, is to 
be found throughout that eminently English book, 
Robinson Crusoe. It is reproduced in the Emile. 
Michelet is also an enthusiast for action. We must 
even reconstruct man, and no longer mutilate him by 
exaggerating this or that part, by giving undue pro- 
minence to this or that faculty, and suppressing others ; 
we must not destroy his active faculties, we must 
bring back life and movement to the class-room. 
The passivity, inertia, and silence to which children 

^ ** My father gently and patiently accustomed me to see and think 
for myself, instead of thrusting upon me his own ideas, which my docile 
and submissive temperament would have blindly accepted* Never 
have I seen a more modest and less dogmatic teacher. He asserted, 
so to speak, nothing ; and was content to draw my attention to things, 
without telling me what he knew about them. When we went into a 
wood, for instance, he was giving me a lesson at every step, and yet I 
never felt I was at school. Thus I insensibly acquired the habit of 
studying strata wherever an outcrop had exposed them. I knew the 
names of animals and plants, classed them in a somewhat tentative 
way, and he let me alone, checking me only by a word or a smile when 
I went astray. He had the gift of looking at everything from the 
practical point of view ; he carefully distinguished the useful from the 
harmful animals, and I early learned to respect the mole, the toad, 
the bat, the snake, the insectivorous birds, and all my misunderstood 
friends.” — Edmond About, Le Roman cPun bra/vo homme. 


are nowadays condemned, are tlie tortures of the 
school-room. “ To be contbmally receiving' and never 
to give! Life is just the opposite of' this. Life 
eagerly receives, but is none the less happy to expand 
and give, and there is no middle course.” Make the 
children more active in school, make them as far as 
possible their own instructors. 

It is often asked if in education we should proceed 
from the concrete to the abstract, from the particular 
to the general, from the empiric to the rational. Yes ! 
in the case of young children. But this method must 
not be exaggerated or extended beyond due limits, 
under the pretext that it represents — ist, the natural 
evolution of the mind ; 2nd, the historical evolution 
of the sciences themselves. In the first-place, children 
generalise very early, and from the first are given to 
abstract deduction. They are simplifiers, and some- 
times thoroughgoing reasoners. The child has an 
essentially logical mind ; for instance, when it has 
done a thing once, it wants to begin again, and under 
precisely the same conditions. Naturally capricious, 
it refuses to sanction caprice in others. This is 
because it has had no experience of varying con- 
ditions and results. And adults are like children ; 
they are reasoners with a bias to simplicity, often 
incapable of seeing three or four data simultaneously 
in a political or moral problem. 

Accordingly, I think that not merely a place, but 
the first place, must be awarded to a rational and 
synthetic method, when it seems peculiarly adapted 
to the work in hand ; for instance, in grammar or 
logic. But in most cases it is possible to combine both 
methods ; and whenever we are teaching the sciences 
of observation, it is important to make the children 


observe for themselves, and to employ the teaching of 

Once the mind is capable of receiving and acquiring, 
we have to determine the best form of intellectual 
food, and the quality and quantity of knowledge to 
be acquired. There is a vast difference between the 
ingestion and digestion of food, between “ cramming 
the memory ” and assimilation. The choice of intel- 
lectual food must be regulated by the nature of the 
brain. We have to introduce the maximum of pre- 
cious elements into intellectual circulation with the 
minimum of waste. 

Some of the prejudices of the older school of 
psychology are still to be found in education ; the 
memory is far too often represented as a simple, 
unique, and detached faculty. The phrases, to exercise, 
to develop the memory, are of common occurrence; 
but, as a matter of fact, we can only exercise and 
develop particular forms of memory — memory for 
words, figures, etc. Memory is a habit, and memory 
in general is no more developed by cramming the 
child’s brain with masses of words and figures, than 
habit in general is developed by contracting the habit 
of leaping with the feet together, or of playing cup 
and ball. When we force a child to remember trivial 
details, we do not strengthen, we really weaken its 
memory, because these useless details take the place 
in his brain of more important ideas. We know that 
the amount of knowledge which can find room in a 
human brain of average capacity is after all limited, 
that one group of subjects may expel another; for 
instance, the pursuit of words is incompatible with 
the pursuit of ideas — frivolities are incompatible with 
graver matters. Not only is it harmful to store the 


brain with rubbish, which, so to speak, empties it and 
does not fill it, but we ipso facto create a facility of 
adaptation with respect to those matters, and make 
mind and memory alike unfitted for the reception of 
really useful and serious ideas. The memory being 
nothing but a faculty of adaptation, it is deformed 
instead of being exercised, if we adapt it to knowledge 
of inferior rank. Besides, facility in the memory is 
one thing, tenacity another. The abuse of competi- 
tions, examinations, curricula fixing a total of know- 
ledge to be acquired by a certain date, far from tending 
to develop, tends rather to destroy the tenacity of 
the memory. We all know the feeling of intellectual 
relief after an examination, when we feel the brain 
freed from all that was so hastily thrown into it, when 
we feel it regain its equilibrium, and forget. An 
examination, for most pupils, is nothing but permis- 
sion to forget. A diploma is often only permission 
to become ignorant again ; and this healthy ignorance, 
which returns by degrees after the day of trial, is often 
the deeper in proportion as the boy has undergone 
more mental strain in mustering all his knowledge by a 
fixed date, because of the nervous exhaustion neces- 
sarily consequent upon it. 

The main duty of instruction is to give to the mind 
a framework whereon to group the facts and ideas 
given us in the sequel by reading and experience. 
Facts and ideas have a real and useful influence over 
the mind only when the mind systematises and co- 
ordinates them with other facts and ideas as they are 
produced ; if the mind does not do this, they will 
remain inert, and will be as if they did not exist 
One of the principles of education is the doctrine of 
the powerlessness of the educator to give more than 



a general direction to thought and conduct. The 
most complete system of instruction only furnishes 
knowledge necessarily insufficient, which must be in 
a measure swallowed up in the multitude of experi- 
ences which compose a life. We must therefore 
distinguish between the merely ornamental and the 
necessary form of knowledge. A serious mistake is 
always made in the classification of these subjects. 
History, for instance, is in great part ornamental; 
hygiene is absolutely necessary. All children of 
intellectual endowments below the average must be 
kept from the study of merely ornamental subjects. 
The higher part of education is already overburdened. 
Preliminary examinations ought to lop off the 
branches which seem fated to bear no fruit ; this 
would be an economy of human sap. 

Among the ornamental subjects I by no means 
include the lofty truths and speculative principles of 
science, .the beauties of literature, and the arts ; this 
so-called luxury is in my opinion necessary, because 
it forms the only means of elevating the mind, 
and of exerting a moral influence over it by the 
disinterested love of the good and beautiful. It is 
the falsely called useful and necessary subjects — 
the application of science, and the dry details of 
history, for instance — that are superfluous. We must 
therefore distinguish between knowledge reputed use- 
less and knowledge of which no use can be made. The 
distinction is of moment, because instruction ought 
certainly to be raised far above the merely utilitarian 
and humdrum ; and, on the other hand, it ought to 
avoid with equal care cramming the mind with know- 
ledge out of proportion to the faculty possessed of 
bringing it into play. 



The educator should, in the first place, lay down 
this general rule — that all knowledge would be good 
for a mind with unlimited power of assimilation ; in 
the second place, that all knowledge, every time it is 
not assimilated, is an added burden to the mind, and 
represents useless expenditure of energy; and thirdly, 
that to determine the number of subjects we wish to 
pour into a mind, we must consider not merely their 
nature, but the relation existing between them, and 
the capacity of the mind into which we wish to 
introduce them. 

The practical conclusion to be drawn from these 
general theses is, that if every man ought to be pro- 
vided with a certain average measure of knowledge 
on arriving at ripened years, this total of knowledge 
ought to be, not utilitarian in the lower sense of the 
word, but available for the mind — capable of being 
assimilated ; that we must not wish to widen beyond 
due bounds the source of the knowledge given to all, 
because the fruitless mental work done in this way 
would be so much pure loss to the bodily powers ; 
and that the best general education is that which 
leaves to the individual the widest latitude to complete 
what he has learned, according as he is capable of 
turning it to good purpose. 

One essential thing we must teach the child is to 
read methodically, and to assimilate what it reads. 
We must therefore distinguish — ist, the passages 
essential from the moral and sesthetic point of view; 
2nd, the facts or ideas essential from the scientific 
point of view. Intellectual education, faintly sketched 
in during early years, is mainly continued by reading 
— sometimes by the mere reading of the newspapers 
and of novels. Moreover, a mass of useful knowledge 


might be drawn from even the papers, with a little 

Perhaps the most imperative duty is to inculcate 
what is less a fact or idea than a sentiment — viz., the 
love of learning ; and to this sentiment should be 
added the love of deep study, of probing a thing to 
its depths — in order that the mind may not skim the 
surface of things, and grasp nothing. This desire 
for thorough work is one and the same thing with 
perfect sincerity, the desire of finding the truth, for a 
little experience forces us to recognise that the truth 
is never near the surface, and that we must always 
dig and labour before reaching it. 

It should be noticed that the subjects most difficult 
for the child to acquire are most often those between 
which it is impossible to establish a logical connec- 
tion, and which have nothing to do with the reason- 
ing powers — unimportant dates, geographical names 
of no use even if known, and trivial historical facts. 
Such knowledge fatigues the brain when it is acquired, 
and instead of forming it by the introduction of 
habits of reasoning, tends rather to deform it; it 
is intellectual energy uselessly dissipated, merely 
futile work. Erudition is therefore one of the 
enemies of real knowledge. And by erudition I 
mean, not the knowledge of Greek or Sanscrit, but 
of an ever-accumulating host of details in which 
• the mind is exhausted and lost To know in their 
chronological order the names of the Merovingians, 
with the dates of their births and deaths, is erudi- 
tion ; to remember in their order the great streams 
under the name of La Roy a which, according to 
our text-books, separate France from Italy (an in- 
accurate statement), is erudition. 



The best education is that which is not merely 
instructive but suggestive^ and consequently directive; 
which introduces into the brain not only knowledge 
susceptible of double use/’ as Socrates says, but 
habits of acting linked with habits of high thinking. 
In other words, we must not only give a diffuse 
instruction creating opposed tendencies which divide 
the mind, but a co-ordinated instruction, conce^itrated 
about a point of reference, and issuing in practical 

Descartes laid down the following rules for his own 
guidance, and asserted that he always followed them 
in his studies: — 

1st Never to allot more than a few hours per day 
to thought which occupies the imagination (concrete 
sciences and arts); 2nd, to give only a few hours per 
year to work requiring the understanding alone 
(mathematics and physics); 3rd, to give all the rest 
of his time to relaxation for the senses, rest for the 
mind, and exercise for the body. 

Descartes includes all serious conversation ” 
among exercises of the imagination, and also every- 
thing absorbing the attention; this accounts for his 
withdrawing to the country. Leibnitz, reproducing the 
rules of Descartes, said: “So far from our mental 
powers being sharpened by excess of study, on the 
contrary, they are blunted.” 

Will a few hours devoted to study every day be 
enough for what we ought to know? They will, 
answers a contemporary philosopher, ^ if, on the one 
hand, the well-controlled mind has reserved all its 
resources for the time devoted to study, and if, on 
the other hand, we limit instruction to subjects it is 

^ M. Ravaisson. 



really important we should know. “The great truths 
in science, the great models in literature and arts, may 
be reduced, for the purposes of education, to a few 
which will be all the more striking in their effect” 




I. The Inadequacy and Vaf^ers of ptcrely Ittielleciual Education . — 
Results of statistics — Necessity of moral instruction. 

II. Possibility of Teachmg Ethics Methodically, — The teaching of 
ethics in connection with creeds and “natural religion ” — The necessity 
of referring to the State the control of civic and moral instruction. 

III. Moral Discipline in the Primary School. — In Tolkoi’s anarchic 
schools — Spencer’s method of natural reactions — Its inadequacy. 

IV. necessity for the Teaching of Civic Duties in all stages of 

V. Instruction in Esthetics. 

VI. Intellectual Education. 

I. The Inadequacy and Dangers of purely Intellectual 

Primary instruction is intended for the masses 
constituting the very foundation of the nation (its 
hereditary foundation), with its good and bad quali- 
ties. This instruction has therefore to act favourably 
upon the deeply-lying strata of the nation. Now, as 
Montesquieu says, it is here especially that we want 
. heads “ well formed,” not “ well filled ” ; we must also 
have, and this is of grave importance, hearts in the 
right place. 

It was ascertained from judicial statistics at the 
beginning of the century that out of a hundred 
prisoners only thirty-nine per cent had ever received 
any instruction. In the face of such a proportion of 
illiterates, it was supposed that ignorance was the 


main cause of crime, and an effort was made to 
extend primary instruction. At the present moment 
instruction is obligatory, and the result is simply 
reversed ; out of a hundred prisoners thirty per cent 
are illiterate. We have therefore been compelled to 
recognise that the greater or less proportion of 
ignorant people among criminals is due to the 
greater or less ignorance of the masses, and not to 
the demoralising effect of ignorance alone. Some 
authors, M. Tarde among the number, think that higher 
instruction alone is powerful enough to raise the mind 
to that point at which the idea of crime can no longer 
be produced It has been retorted that if, in the 
records of crime, we find very few really well-educated 
people, it is because in these days to obtain real instruc- 
tion we must already have some resources of our own ; 
now, with easy circumstances, many temptations dis- 
appear ; further, higher instruction constitutes in itself 
resources — a livelihood. If the same scientific instruc- 
tion were given to all, statistics would probably show 
a large number of clever, well-educated, and therefore 
more dangerous criminals. We may also add that 
fifty years ago only two per cent, of criminals had 
received higher instruction ; the proportion has now 
risen to four per cent, and no doubt will increase. 
As Socrates pointed out, the way to prevent instruc- 
tion from becoming a weapon in the hands of crime, 
would be to allot a far larger share in education to 
moral and aesthetic than to intellectual and scientific 
instruction ; not to conceive the latter without the 
former, not to think that the knowledge of facts and 
truths of a positive order can supply the place of 
sentiment in a good education.^ 

^ Ellis, Thf Criminal^ pp. 299, 300. (Tr.) 


The abuse of too purely intellectual an instruction 
is that, far from always exercising a moralising 
influence, it often only results in the increase of the 
unclassed. If the child, when he reaches manhood, 
has not attained the object of his ambition, he shifts 
the blame on to society, and accuses its bad organisa- 
tion. From that time forward he will look at 
everything from the worst point of view, and will 
hate every one. If he is feeble and exhausted, he will 
enter what has been called “ The regiment of the 
resigned”;^ of those who, too weak to take an 
initiative in revolt, have bowed the head, but 
who always are ready to help those who have 
revolted, when the latter have begun to rebel. 
If the latter do evil, the former certainly will 
not prevent them ; both have an interest in 
revolutions, and those who do not dare to bell the 
cat, will certainly not be the men to untie the bell.® 
At the beginning of his short reign, the Emperor 
Frederick III. wrote to Prince Bismarck — “ I con- 
sider that the question of the attention to be given 
to the young is intimately connected with all social 

^ Vide M. de Coubertin. 

® A plan for the transformation of the real schools has been laid 
before the Council of the Russian Empire. These schools were based 
upon those of Germany for modern instruction. They are still found 
to have either too much or too little of the classical element in them; 
they are condemned for forming half-trained men, whose training has 
been both too literaiy and too unpractical to enable them to face 
industrial or commercial, life with much chance of success. Hence it 
is felt that these schools should be turned into purely technical schools. 
The training will be such as to turn out good foremen and heads of 
workshops, who will have received such a general culture and technical 
instruction as to enable them to at once obtain a situation in a manu- 
facturing or commercial business, and who will not run the risk of 
being driven into the ranks of the imclassed — the open sore of modern 


questions. A higher education ought to be made 
accessible to more and more extended strata ; but 
half-instruction will have to be avoided, lest it create 
grave dangers, and give rise to claims on life which 
the economic forces of the nation will be unable to 
satisfy. We must equally avoid trying to merely and 
exclusively increase the amount of instruction, lest 
we thereby neglect our educative mission.” And in 
fact, moral and civic training, having the most educa- 
tive influence, must be awarded the first rank. 

IL Possibility of Teaching Ethics Methodically. 

If instruction ought to be pre-eminently moral, is it 
possible to teach ethics methodically? Ethics, in my 
opinion, is partly positive and partly conjectural. 
There is on its positive side a fundamental theorem 
which ought, I think, to be also the foundation of 
moral instruction. This theorem, of which I have else- 
where shown the importance, is that of the correlation 
between the intensity of life and its expansion towards 
others. It is what I have called moral fecundity. In 
virtue of its very intensity, we have seen that life 
tends to overflow, expand, and expend itself, and by 
its expenditure to increase. For, once again, it is a 
law of life, only to maintain itself by self-sacrifice, 
only to be enriched by lavishing its wealth. This 
law is true even in the case of physical life, which is 
the most egoistic, the most limited, and apparently 
the most self-centred. All the physical functions 
must end in this common term — expenditure, move- 
ment outwards, expansion. The nourishment we 
have accumulated tends to awaken the need of 


propagating our being in another being ; respiration 
and circulation require movement and exercise — that 
is to say, external expenditure ; all robust and 
intense life needs action. When \vc come to psy- 
chical life, the need of expansion is still more keenly 
felt, and in this domain true expansion is that which 
takes place toimrds others, or, still better, others. 
The harmony of forces is, in fact, the only or the best 
means of preserving their intensity. Every conflict 
is an annihilation of forces ; to exercise one's activity 
against others is eventually to exhaust it, and to 
impoverish one's own being; it is robbing one's 
happiness to squander it on ambition. The highest 
activity is that which is exercised not only in agree- 
ment with others, but also out of regard for others. 
From all theories on the principles of ethics, which 
alone are really open to serious controversy, we can 
even now extract a certain basis of common ideas, and 
make of that basis a subject of teaching or popular 
instruction. All moral theories, even those most 
sceptical or egoistic in their origin, have eventually 
issued in ascertaining this fact, that the individual 
cannot live only of himself and for himself, that 
egoism is a contraction of the sphere of our activity, 
and that it eventually impoverishes and injures that 
activity. The sentiment which is at the bottom 
of all human morality is always that of generosity. 
Men who are generous and philanthropic make 
incarnate in themselves the systems of Epicurus 
and of Bentham.^ This I have shown elsewhere. It 
is this spirit of generosity inherent in all morality 
that a moralist always can and ought to try to set 
free and compel to penetrate the mind of his audience, 

1 Vide my Morale d' Epicure and my Morale Att^laise Co 7 zfemporame, 


It is objected that if the propagation and teaching 
of moral ideas become independent of creeds they 
will lack a final element of sovereign power over all 
pious minds, namely, the idea of punishment after 
death, or at any rate the certainty of that punishment 
My answer is that precisely what is purest in the moral 
sentiment is doing good for its own sake. And if the 
reply is made that it is a chimerical ideal, being so 
elevated, I retort that the power of the ideal to realise 
itself will become greater in proportion as the ideal 
is placed higher in the society of the future.^ It is 
supposed that the most elevated ideas are the least 
easy to propagate among the masses : this is an error 
to which the future will more and more unmistak- 
ably give the lie.‘'^ The Chinese, who are very acute 
observers, have the following proverb : — “ He who 
finds pleasure in vice and pain in virtue, is still a 
novice in both.” The object of moral education is to 
make children find their pleasure in virtue and their 
pain in vice. We must not always be teaching the 
utility of the good, and forget its beauty^ which causes 
what is good to spontaneously afford immediate enjoy- 
ment The utilitarian school, wishing to base moral 
education on the imitation of examples, on the con- 
sideration of expediency, on the benefits of altruism, 
decreases the really moral spirit in children by 
robbing them of the power of doing good for its 
own sake, independently of what others have done, 
do, or will do. Kant seemed to foresee the applica- 
tion of English psychology to English pedagogy: 
trying to discover why ethical treatises, even those 
showing by most examples the happy effects of 

^ Vide VEsquUse d!um Morale, pp. 236, 237. 

2 Vide my VIrrMgion de V Avenir, p. 352. 


good, have nevertheless so little influence; he asked 
if this inefficiency is not due to the admixture of 
the ideal of the good with foreign elements. "The 
moralists,” he says, "have never undertaken to reduce 
their concepts to the simplest expression; searching 
on every side, with the best intentions in the world, 
for emotional motives to moral good, they, by so 
doing, spoil the remedy they wish to be efficacious. 
In fact, the commonest obseiwation shows that if 
we have presented to us an act of probity, free from 
all interested views in this world or another — an act 
even involving struggle against the hardships of 
poverty or the seductions of wealth ; and if, on the 
other hand, we are shown a precisely similar act, 
in which foreign motives, however slightly, have 
concurred, the former leaves the latter very far 
behind it, and throws it into the shade; it elevates 
the mind, and inspires in it the desire to go 
and do likewise. Children experience this senti- 
ment as soon as they can reason, and duty should 
never be inculcated in any other way. The power 
of morality over the human heart is in proportion to 
the purity of outline with which it is presented.” 
But is not this a matter of mere logic? A happy 
issue to a series of events implies the possibility of 
the contrary, which, moreover, is much more prob- 
able; the mere good sense of the child will teach 
him this. The attempted proof that the best way of 
reaching utilitarian happiness is to abandon oneself to 
altruistic sentiments is not only always subject to 
dispute, but it is an appeal to the egoistic sentiments 
themselves to form a judgment on a cause not within 
their scope, disinterestedness, to wit ; it is to forget 
that the sentiments can only be judged by their peers* 


Stimulate generosity alone, when you want a burst 
of generosity, and you will be understood ; the 
most elevated sentiments, at least those momentarily 
the strongest, will stifle all others, and the eager 
trembling of sublime emotion will be produced. 

I have elsewhere attempted to show that different 
forms of religion arc not eternal, that they have a 
mythical, dogmatic, ceremonial side, which is des- 
tined to disappear. In the ideal state of religious 
aiioniia towards which we seem to be moving, all 
tendencies of temperament or of race will still find 
satisfaction, and in this religion of the future the 
“ worship of the ideal ** must find its place. On our 
part, we by no means wish to destroy; we even 
believe that, absolutely speaking, destruction cannot 
ensue. In human thought and in nature alike, all 
destruction is but transformation. The ideal irre- 
ligion, though to us it is a negation of the dogmas and 
superstitions of the day, is in no way exclusive of 
renewed religious sentiment, — identical with that 
sentiment which always corresponds in us to all 
free speculation on the universe, identical with the 
philosophical sentiment itself. Dogma, free-thought, 
religion, irreligion, — these terms are only approxima- 
tions, and there are in things none of those breaches 
of continuity, hiatus, and artificial antitheses, which 
we introduce into words. I think therefore that 
religions of the day are destined to disappear by a 
dissolution very slow, but none the less sure ; but 
I also think that man, whatever be his race or class, 
will always philosophise on the world and on the great 
cosmical society. He will philosophise, sometimes 
naively, sometimes deeply, as his education increases 
and according to the individual tendencies of his 



mind, tendencies which will go on freeing themselves 
and ever be made stronger by the very progress of 

If this be so, we cannot admit that war should 
be proclaimed against sectarian instruction, for it 
has its moral utility in the present state of the 
human mind It constitutes one of the elements 
which prevent the disaggregation of the moral edifice, 
and anything of the nature of a unifying force must 
not be contemned, when we take into account the 
individualistic and even anarchic tendencies of our 

The public schools in France cannot be sectarian, 
but a philosophic doctrine like the broad theism 
taught in our schools is not a confession of faith, 
nor a dogma; it is an exposition of philosophical 
opinions conformable to the traditions of the majority. 
On the other hand, atheism is not a dogma or con- 
fession, which may have the right to exclude all 
contrary opinions as an insult to, or infringement 
of, liberty of conscience. Hence no confession of 
faith is assailed by any lay, moral, or philosophical 
teaching if appropriate to the mental state of the 
children. Besides, anti-religious fanaticism offers 
grave dangers, just as religious fanaticism does; there- 
fore the State, to preserve unharmed the children of 
both, ought to keep to the high road of primary instruc- 
tion. The State cannot be, and ought not to be, 
uninterested in these questions. As Michelet truly 
said, the first duty of politics is education; the second, 
education ; the third, education. State intervention 
alone can prevent the youth of the country from being 
brought up in a strict “individualism”; it alone can 
maintain the best national traditions, and oppose 


every manifestly patriotic or immoral education. In a 
word, the duty of the State is to transmit to each new 
generation the heritage handed on by the past, the 
literary, scientific, and artistic treasures amassed by 
our ancestors at the cost of so much effort. ‘‘ Con- 
tinuity of national tradition is the true condition of 
progress, the inexhaustible fount of an enlightened 
and fertile patriotism. Now it is to be feared that if 
national education be left to private initiative, pre- 
judices of a low utilitarianism, the want of an horizon 
sufficiently wide, with many other causes, will help to 
break the bond between us and the glorious past. 
The only way to avoid the gropings, faults, and 
blunders of our predecessors is to study them. No 
progress can be made if the lessons of the past are 
neglected.’’^ The State ought, moreover, to keep the 
general level of education up to a certain standard, 
to watch over the maintenance of good and strong 
national traditions, and to take the necessary steps to 
ensure that whatever there is good and beautiful in 
our modern civilisation may be transmitted to future 

There is a tendency in the present day to substitute 
the commune for the State, and to award to the 
former at its own discretion the power of entire 
direction of all schools within its jurisdiction. But to 
this the answer has been justly made, that most of 
the French communes, even if thoroughly reformed, 
would be incapable of supplying the basis of genuine 
instruction. In most cases they would hand over 
the education of youth, either to intelligent but in- 
experienced innovators, or to charlatans ; in some 
cases to religious bodies, in others to anti-religious 

^ V Education selon Herbart (Roerich). 



sects, according to the fashion of the day or the 
impulse of the moment Those communes which 
would confine themselves simply to school routine 
would be least exposed to delusions. The youth of 
a country is its pride and its wealth : we cannot hand 
it over to those who wish to take it as an experiment 
in anima vili^ or as a political weapon. The State 
cannot tolerate the future of a whole generation being 
a subject for debate to any political party whatever; 
its duty is to maintain the lofty impartiality and 
disinterestedness of education.^ 

III. Moral Discipline in the Primary School 

The moral discipline of schools is an important 
question. Rousseau thought it was best to let 
children incur the natural consequences of their 
actions. Spencer has reproduced the same theory 
under the name of natural reactions^ and Tolstoi has 
carried out the experiment in his anarchic school at 
Yasnala. Spencer's principle has been often criticised, 
and not unjustly. A thoughtless boy teases his 
neighbour and disturbs the whole class; natural re- 
action in this environment will be an argument ad 
hominem, A row will inevitably follow, and order 
will be compromised for the rest of the lesson. If 
the master intervenes to bring the culprit to reason, 
authority is brought into play and the system of 
natural reactions proves a failure. Suppose a boy is 
simply inattentive during the lesson. The master 
cannot reprove him without infringing the doctrine of 
natural reactions. But if a boy is inattentive one 

^ L ^ Education selon Berhart (Roerich). 


day, and is made to suffer no inconvenience, he 
will be inattentive the next and the following days. 
A bad habit is quickly contracted, and the natural 
reaction is only produced when the evil is irrepar- 
able. Inattention and habitual carelessness in a boy 
are naturally followed by ignorance, intellectual in- 
feriority to his hard-working schoolfellows, and finally 
by the difficulties of life resulting from that in- 
feriority. The injury is only felt a long time after 
the faults of school-life, but then it is irreparable,^ 
Nature especially excites children to spontaneous 
physical development. Hence the craving for inces- 
sant motion, the aversion to everything that keeps 
them still Almost all the faults of children are due 
to their turbulence — to exaggeration in the satis- 
fying of a want Fatigue is only the reaction from 
overstrained activity. The child who neglects his 
work and plays till he is tired will not feel the punish- 
ment of his moral fault by physical fatigue. Rest will 
restore his readiness for movement, and his longing to 
recommence the exercise that fatigued him ; but he 
will never be led by any purely physical impulse to 
the work he has neglected. A child’s mind can 
establish no relation between the work he has for- 
gotten and the fatigue resulting from too prolonged 
or too violent exercise in the time he ought to 
have devoted to that work. Here natural reaction 
misses its aim ; it neither diverts from play, nor does 
it induce the child to work.^ The necessity of a rule 
is clear even in the most instinctive acts of the child. 
Repletion inspires in him a repugnance to food — a 
repugnance which may issue in disgust This is a 

^ Vide M. Chaumeil, Pidagogie Psychologique, 

* Vide M. Roerich, Les Principes de Herhart sur V Educatiori, 


natural reaction. But a keener sensation, a pleasing 
flavour, may produce a reaction which may lead to 
eating more than he wants. Cold water is agreeable 
when one is bathed in perspiration ; the natural 
reaction is inflammation of the lungs. Are we to wait 
till it comes? In a word, a man left to the mercy of 
natural reactions would descend in the animal scale ; 
he would not even live. 

Tolstoi, in his school at Yasnala Poliana,^ takes as 
his starting-point the principle that all rules in schools 
are illegitimate, that the child^s liberty is inviolable, 
and even that children should suggest to the master 
the subjects they wish to be taught, and the methods 
to be adopted. Tolstoi thinks that true liberty pre- 
cedes culture, that Providence is enough to turn men 
left to themselves to the true and the good. Hence 
the beautiful disorder in his school, described by him 
in such a charming way. The master enters the 
class-room. On the floor lie the squalling children, 
rolling in a heap and shouting : “ You’re choking me, 
boys!” “Stop! stop pulling my hair!” “Pidtr 
Mikhallovitch ! ” shrieks a voice from the bottom of 
the heap to the master, “ make them let me alone ! ” 
“ Good-day ! Pidtr Mikhallovitch ! ” shout the rest, 
abating none of their noise. The master proceeds 
to take the books and distribute them to those 
who have followed him up to the desk. Then 
the boys on the top of the heap ask for books. 
Little by little the heap diminishes. When the 
majority have their books the rest rush to the 
desk shouting : “ One for me 1 ” “ Where is mine ? ” 
“ Give me the book I had yesterday ! ” “I want the 

^ The account of the anarchic schools will be found in The Lon^ 
Exile (Walter Scott), (Tr.) 


Koltsof.”^ Perhaps two are left, who in the heat 
of the struggle remain wrestling on the floor. Then 
the others, seated on the form, book in hand, cry : 
“What are you dawdling for? We can’t hear any- 
thing. Stop ! ” The combatants submit ; all out of 
breath they take their books and sit down on the 
bench, and for the first moment or so the movement 
of their legs betrays the excitement that has not yet 
calmed down. The ardour for the fray has vanished, 
and now an ardour for work reigns throughout the 
class. With the same zest with which he was a few 
minutes ago pulling Mitka’s hair, the boy now reads 
his Koltsof ; his mouth is slightly open, his little eyes 
sparkle, and he sees nothing of what is going on 
around him — nothing but his book. “ The same effort 
would now be necessary to tear him from bis book as 
would have been required just before to drag him out 
of the fight” The boys sit just where they fancy : 
forms, tables, window-ledges, are all the same to 
them; but the arm-chair is the object of universal envy. 
When one takes it into his head to instal himself 
therein, another guesses his intention, from nothing 
but the expression of his face ; both rush for it, and 
whoever gets it, keeps it The smarter of the two 
stretches himself out in it, his head deep down in the 
back of the chair, but he is carried away by work, and 
reads as earnestly as the others. “ During class I 
have never seen them chatter, or pinch one another, or 
indulge in smothered laughter, or uncouth sounds, or 
tell tdes of one another to the master.” When a boy, 
educated by a ponoinar^ or at the district school, 

1 Aleksei Vasilyevitch Koltsof (1809-1842), a distinguished Russian 
poet. (Tr.) 

® Fonomar or paramonar is a church official, a doorkeeper, (Tr.) 



comes up to make a complaint, the only comfort he 
gets is : Well, are you sure you did not pinch your- 
self? ” 

In Tolstoi’s opinion, constraint by any physical 
means is impossible. The more the master storms, 
the more noisy the boys are ; his voice only excites 
them. If he succeeds in stopping them, and in turn- 
ing their attention in another direction, this little sea 
becomes less and less agitated until it finally calms 
down. But in most cases it is best for him to say 
nothing. Yet it seems as if disorder is growing and 
increasing every moment, as if nothing can check it 
but constraint ‘‘ Then all we have to do is to wait 
until this disorder (or fire) has ended, and the order of 
the class will then be of a better and more stable 
character than any we could substitute for it” 

In the evening the boys do not care for mathe- 
matics and analysis ; they have a peculiar taste for 
singing and reading, and especially for stories. “ What 
is the good of so much mathematics?” they say; “ it is 
^ far better to tell stories.” All the evening lessons stand 
out in sharp contrast to those of the morning, having 
a special characteristic — ^peace and poetry. Come 
into the school at dusk; there is no light in the windows, 
all is quiet. The snow on the steps of the stairs, a 
dull, low murmur, a movement behind the door, a 
young rascal, holding on to the balustrades, tearing 
up two steps at a time, are the only signs that the 
boys are within. Go into the school, it is almost too 
dark to see, but look at that little fellow’s face : he is 
sitting down, gazing intently at the master; his brows 
are knit, and for the tenth time he pushes off his 
shoulder the arm of a schoolfellow who is leaning on 
him. Tickle his neck, he does not oven smile, he 


merely shakes his head as though to dislodge a fly ; he 
is absolutely absorbed by the mysterious and poetic 
story, how the great veil of the temple was rent in 
twain, and how darkness brooded over the land : the 
story is at once entrancing and painful. . . . But now 
the master has finished. All rise from their seats, and 
crowd around him, each repeating all that he remem- 
bers of the story, and trying to out-shout his neigh- 
bour. Those who are told they need not repeat it 
because they know it perfectly are none the quieter 
for that, but rush up to another master, or if there is 
no other master, to a schoolfellow, a stranger, or even 
the stove-lighter ; they run from "one corner to 
another, in groups of twos and threes, each begging 
the other to hear him. It is rare for a single boy to 
tell the tale. They divide into groups, each seeking 
his equal in intelligence, and away they go, encourag- 
ing and correcting one another. ‘ Come now, let us 
say it together ! ’ says one boy to another. But the 
latter, thinking he is not a fair match, sends him to a 
third. At last, when they have finished the story, 
they calm down. Candles are brought, and their 
attention is diverted to something else. About eight 
o’clock their eyes grow heavy ; yawns are frequent ; 
the candles burn more dimly, and are not snuffed so 
often. The elders are still wide awake, but younger 
and inferior lads begin to doze, with their elbows on 
the table, to the drowsy hum of the master’s voice.” 

When the children are tired of their work, or just 
before a holiday, all at once, without saying a word, 
during the second or third lesson after dinner, two or 
three boys dart into the hall and quickly seize their 
hats. “ Where are you off to ? ” “ Home ! ” “ But 

how about your singing?” “The boys said it 




was time to go home,” answers the youth, slipping 
towards the door with his hat. '' But who gave them 
leave?” ''The boys are gone,” is the response. 
"Well, then,” says the master angrily, for he is all 
ready for his lesson, “just stop a moment!” But 
another youth runs into the class-room, his face all 
aglow, but with a certain air of embarrassment. 
' What are you stopping for?” he says in a surly 
tone to the lad who has been kept back, and who in 
his hesitation is picking the wool from his sheep-skin 
cap with his fingers. “Look where the other boys 
are already! At the blacksmith’s, perhaps, by this 
time.” And both rush off shouting to the master 
from the door, “ Good-bye, Ivdn Petrovitch 1 ” And 
the little feet clatter on the stairs, and the boys, 
tumbling, jumping like cats, falling down in the snow, 
chasing each other, rush home, rending the air with 
their shouts. 

These scenes, says Tolstoi, are reproduced once or 
twice a week. It is humiliating and painful to the 
master, but he puts up with them because they give 
all the greater meaning to the five or six lessons 
which are freely and voluntarily attended by the boys 
every day. If the alternative were proposed in the 
words : Would you rather never have a scene like 
this the whole year through, or would you have them 
recur every other lesson? Tolstoi would choose the 
latter. The school is freely developed, says he, simply 
by the principles laid down by the masters and the 
boys. In spite of the master’s authority, the boy 
was always at liberty to absent himself from school, 
or even not to listen to him when he did come. On 
the other hand, the master had the right, if he wished, 
to neglect the boy when at school, and the power to 


act with all the influence he could bring to bear upon 
most of the boys — ^upon them as children at school, 
and thus upon society at large, of which they were a 
part. According to Tolstoi, this disorder, or ‘‘free 
order,” only appears frightful to us because we are 
accustomed to the entirely different system in which we 
were brought up. In this connection, as in others, the 
use of violence is only based upon a theory formed, not 
merely without reflection upon human nature, but with- 
out even taking it into account at all. Schoolboys are 
men, subject, small as they are, to the same necessities 
as ourselves ; they are, like us, thinking beings. They 
air want to learn, and that is why they go to school, 
that is why they need no effort to arrive at the conclu- 
sion that to learn anything they must be subjected to 
certain conditions. Not only are they men, but they 
form a society of beings united by thoughts in common. 
“Where two or three are gathered together in My 
name, there am I in the midst of them.” They 
neither rebel nor murmur when they submit to the 
only natural laws — the laws derived from nature; 
submitting to your unseasonable authority, they 
nevertheless do not admit that your bells, your time- 
tables, and your rules are legitimate. 

At the school of Yasnaia Poliana, when the spring 
was over, there were only “ two cases of visible con- 
tusion;” one boy was pushed down the steps and 
hurt his leg (the wound healed in a fortnight) ; another 
had his cheek burned with blazing pitch, and he had 
a scar for a couple of weeks. Tolstoi concludes that 
the school must not interfere in discipline, which con- 
cerns the parents alone ; that the school ought not 
to, and has no right to, punish or reward ; that the 
best discipline is to give the boys absolute freedom 


to learn and to settle their own affairs entirely by 

Tolstoi and Spencer may both be reasonably blamed 
for calling the system of discipline by nattiral conse- 
quences moral education. These reactions only teach 
the children the relations of natural ca.usality (and 
that, too, not always with sufficient emphasis), but 
they are not of a moral character. Spencer, however, 
thinks that natural reactions are apt to instil in the 
child the sentiment of responsibility. Yes, but of 
purely utilitarian responsibility. The object of true 
pedagogic sanctions is to form the moral judgment, 
to give birth to, to sustain, and to develop in the 
child internal sanctions, pleasure and displeasure of 
the conscience, self-satisfaction and self-dissatisfac- 
tion. That is how they are distinguished from purely 
disciplinary measures. They consist essentially in 
approbation and blame. They may not always be 
identical with these, but they should always be 
referred to them as the sign to the thing signified. 

The moral consciousness of the pupil is developed, 
in a measure, by contact with that of the master, 
manifested by approbation and blame.” ^ 

We may ask Tolstoi why the school should be 
limited to instruction alone, leaving education to the 
family, who often acquit themselves but ill of their 
task? The anarchic system of Tolstoi may be 
applicable when a Tolstoi conducts the school ; if it 
became general it would be intolerable. We are by no 
means persuaded that wherever two or three children 
are gathered together the spirit of Christ is in the 
midst of them ; it is more often the spirit of the devil 
— ^that is to say, of primitive and ancestral barbarism. 

1 M. Pillon. 


Besides, school ought to be a preparation for social 
life. The school of Tolstoi may certainly prepare the 
child for a society such as the great writer dreams of 
— without judges, prisons, or army ; but anarchy in 
school life is a detestable preparation for the organised 
and legal life of society as it is at present The child 
must not be persuaded that its only law after leaving 
school is its own sweet will, checked by that of others ; 
that life is made for amusement ; that we study and 
work when we take it into our heads ; that people do 
nothing unless the whim seizes them. It is not by 
a system of education like this that citizens, to say 
nothing of soldiers, will be made. 

What deduction, then, can be drawn from Tolsto'fs 
experiments? That, if discipline is necessary in schools, 
it should not be carried into rigid formalism; when- 
ever the moral influence of the master is enough, let 
us be content with it ; but also, every time the child 
abuses his liberty or his strength, he must be clearly 
taught, by some sanction carrying with it its own 
motive and reason, that every human community is 
subject to laws, and not left to the anarchy of which 
the Slavs dream, 

IV. Necessity for the Teaching of Civic Duties in all 
stages of Instruction, 

Civil and moral instruction should be conjoined. 
Stuart Mill said that the voter ought at least to be 
capable of copying out several lines of English, and 
doing a rule-of-three sum,^ before placing his vote in 

1 ** I regard it as wholly inadmissible that any person should 
participate in the suffrage without being able to read, write, and, I will 
add, perform the common operations of arithmetic.** — J. S. Mill on 
Representative Governnmit^ p. 68. (Tr.) 


the ballot-box. Spencer says, with more justice, that 
the multiplication table will not help you to see 
through the fallacies of socialistic theories. What 
does it matter whether the working man can read or 
not, if he only reads what will confirm his delusions ? 
A drowning man clutches at a straw ; a man over- 
whelmed with care clutches at any social theory that 
promises him happiness. What is necessary is better 
civic instruction. Among working men of every kind, 
who are the best instructed ? The artisans ; and it is 
precisely from the artisans, with their false ideas, that 
the greatest peril threatens us. “ The ignorant peas- 
ant,” it has been well said, “ is less irrational than the 
enlightened artisan. A little instruction sometimes 
leaves the recipient a long way off good sense ; but 
much instruction must bring him nearer to it 
If we cannot bring primary instruction to perfection, 
a wide diffusion of that instruction will bring all 
working men, peasants included, to the level of the 
artisan, and will give them more power to carry out 
an unfortunate policy or bad social economy.”^ 

Spencer and Bluntschli agree in the assertion that 
in our democracies there is no possible liberty, no 
possible vote, no possible security for property, with- 
out a “good political education.” The school, and 
especially the school of the people, can only be a 
distant preparation for this education, “The child 
grasps with difficulty the notion of the State. We 
can only give him very vague ideas on the political 
and social constitution, and they afford but little 
interest to the youthful intellect We have especially 
to inspire the child with public morality, civic virtue, 
patriotism, and that too by example rather than by 
^ A, Fouill^e, La FropriStS sociale et la dlmocralze, p, 202 . 



precept.” But there is always a great gap to be filled 
up, namely, the time elapsing between leaving school 
— about fourteen — and the age of political majority. 
In this interval it is certain that the youth is left to 
himself; that he is exposed to the danger of forgetting 
a large part of what has been taught him; that civic 
instruction, in particular, is forgotten just when it is 
most necessary. If it is legitimate to require three to 
five years for military training, would it not be legiti- 
mate to require a few hours a week to give our young 
men positive ideas in political science and consti- 
tutional law ? Defence against “ the attack of bar- 
barians from within” is as essential in our democracies 
as defence against the foe from without. I am one of 
those who believe that it would be desirable, during 
the whole of a young man's military service, that 
he should be taught not merely his military " theory,” 
but also what has been called civic theory — ^the 
principles of our constitution, the organisation of the 
State, and the duties and rights of the citizen. This 
might be done by text-books outside all party lines, 
without either political or religious bias.^ 

In Belgium, examinations for the franchise have 
been instituted: this would be a good example to 

Raleigh^s Elementary Politics (is.. Clarendon Press) will probably 
occur to the reader as an instance of what has been done in England in 
this way. (Tr.) 

» The new Belgian law takes as the basis of the franchise not 
the census, but intellectual and moral capacity. Candidates are sub- 
mitted before a jury to an electoral examination, comprising very 
simple questions on morality, Belgian history, constitutional institutions, 
reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography. 

Before adopting this conclusion, experiments were made on the 
results already obtained by primary instruction; the militia who had 
been at school from four to six years were subjected to an extremely 



V. Instrtiction in ^Esthetics. 

At present but little effort has been made to give a 
really cesthetic education. Historical education has 
received attention, but aesthetic education has not 
received its share. When literature is taught, it is 
from the point of view of names and dates, while in 
aesthetics dates are of but secondary importance. We 
must give the first place in the different degrees of 
instruction to the beautiful, and not merely to literary, 
but also to artistic beauty. In the depths of every 
man is a fund of enthusiasm which only asks room 
for expansion ; unfortunately it too often expands on 
things not worth the trouble. I knew an honest man 
who left his province, his home, and his everyday 

simple examination. They were asked, for instance: “What are the 
four great towns of Belgium, and upon what rivers are they situated ? ” 
Thirty-five per cent, could not answer at all ; 44 per cent, were only 
partly right. To the question, “By whom are the laws made ? " 50 per 
cent, were unable to answer at all ; 35 per cent, said they were made 
by the king, or by the king and queen, or by the ministers, or by the 
government, or by the senate j 15 per cent, gave an accurate answer. 
Asked to name an illustrious Belgian, 67 per cent, named all kinds of 
foreign dignitaries in various countries ; 20 per cent, could only name 
Leopold 1 . or Leopold 11 . Such were the unsatisfactory results of the 
Belgian law of 1842 on primary instruction, 

Bluntschli, entering into no details, proposes to the State as a 
model “the profound subtlety of the Church,” which is able to fill 
young minds with its teaching, and to consecrate, in a measure, the 
entry of the Christian into life by what is called ‘^confirmation,” 
Bluntschli would like a kind of “civic confirmation and consecration,” 
“Before being allowed to exercise his privileges as a citizen, every 
man should have undergone a course of civic education, or some corre- 
sponding examination. If necessary, an annual State festival would 
commemorate this civic consecration. A sense of what the State really 
is would thus grow in men’s minds, and the intellectual and moral 
capacity of the elector would be better secured.” 



life, to make a journey to the Pyrenees, for the sole 
purpose of eating trout caught in Lake Gaube, That 
was gormandising carried to the verge of enthusiasm. 
The object of education is not to suppress enthusiasm, 
but to direct it towards objects worthy of it — towards 
the good and the beautifid. 

There are two kinds of imagination : one consists 
pre-eminently in approaching things from the point 
of view of resemblance. Metaphor arises from — first 
the involuntary, and then the voluntary blending of 
images. The imagination of children and young 
people is essentially metaphorical ; their language 
even is composed of figures of every kind. The 
analytic spirit, on the other hand, consists in the 
apprehension of the differences rather than the 
resemblances of things, in defining the outlines of 
perceptions. The mind, possessing the highest form 
of imagination, is able to represent to itself points 
both of resemblance and difference, and to distinguish 
all its percepts and concepts, and at the same 
time to grasp the point at which they touch, and 
the features they have in common. The creative 
imagination is constituted by this double faculty of 
perceiving resemblance and difference. The percep- 
tion of differences is the more voluntary part of the 
imagination : it is the part of genius involving work 
and even effort Creation by an artist or thinker 
presupposes two things — first, spontaneous and con- 
fused synthesis ; then order and analysis introduced 
into that synthesis. To create is, in a certain sense, 
to unify (all is one in the universe) ; but it is also to 
see variety in the indistinct unity of things. The 
work: of art and even of science is always more or less 
a metaphor, but a metaphor conscious of itself, of its 



different terms, and of the determinate relation which 
connects them. The child must be accustomed to 
keep its imagination under control, to guide it, and 
ipso facto to make it analytic, — to change the play of 
imagination into methodic work, into an art. The 
excess of a child’s imagination, like that of primitive 
races, is largely due to the greater indistinctness of 
the perceptions, which are more easily transformed 
into one another at will. They see what they wish 
to see in the confusion of things, just as we see shapes 
in clouds. As yet the name is for the child insepar- 
able from the object; language is not for him the 
algebra it becomes for us: if we speak to him 
of anything, he sees it, and when he does not see 
it, he cannot understand what we are talking about 
He distinguishes clearly neither time, place, nor 
persons. The imagination of children has therefore 
for its starting-point the confusion of images produced 
by their reciprocal attraction ; they blend the paist 
with the present or the future ; they do not live as 
we do, in the reed, in the determinate ; they assign no 
definite limits to a sensation or an image ; in other 
words, being unable to distinguish or perceive any- 
thing very clearly, they dream apropos of everything. 
The child not having yet developed the art of recol- 
lection, everything is in the present to him. A con- 
fusion between the present and the past is often 
visible in the child. A boy of two and a half years 
old dropped his ball the other day from the top of a 
balcony. The ball was restored, and since then 
he has played with it a hundred times ; in spite of 
that, he brings me suddenly to the balcony, and 
then, in a pathetic tone of voice, but with genuine 
grief, tells me he has dropped it over. The child 


retains and reproduces images much more than he 
invents them or thinks them ; and that is precisely 
why he has no clear idea of time : the reproductive 
imagination, being isolated, is not distinguished from, 
nor is it opposed to, the constructive imagination, 
for the latter is only the higher development of the 
former. The child or the animal have really no past — 
that is to say, no totality of recollections systematised 
and in antithesis to the present or to the future, 
which they imagine and construct in their own 
fashion. The faculty of generalisation, so great and 
so often noticed in children, arises from their much 
clearer perception of resemblances than differences. 
In the case of my boy, two and a half years old, 
every fruit is an apple, every colour attracting his 
eyes is red, because that is the essentially salient 
colour. When lying in his cradle he shows me the 
bottom and then the side of the bed — “this is the road, 
and that is the ditch ; ” he imagines these things of 
himself without ever having been taught to play such 
a game. This is because he is led by superficial 
analogies so powerfully that in a short time he is not 
conscious of differences ; I am quite sure that when 
he goes to sleep he really thinks he is right in the 
middle of a white road, with ditches on the right and 
left Children also constantly deceive themselves 
about persons. If something has been broken, and I 
ask my little boy, “Who has broken that?” he 
almost always answers, “ Baby.” This is because it is 
generally Baby that has done any mischief. Besides, 
in his own eyes, he is the centre of the world, and he 
therefore considers himself not only as the object, but 
also as the cause of everything that is done. 

Imagination, as I have already said, begins with 


an involuntary confusion of images, which, at first 
unconscious, becomes conscious in the course of 
correction, causes a certain pleasure, and then is 
voluntarily repeated for the sake of that pleasure. 
The play of the imagination was at first an error. I 
can compare it to nothing better than to a gentle fall, 
causing no pain, which amuses, and though on the 
first occasion an accident, becomes a game at which 
the child plays. How fond children are, for instance, 
of rolling on the grass ! 

Fiction is natural to children. It is a mistake to 
say that, as a rule, they lie artificially to escape, for 
example, a punishment The lie is in most cases the 
first exercise of the imagination, the first invention, 
the germ of art The child of two and a half alluded 
to above frequently lies to himself, telling stories 
out loud in which he inverts the actual occurrences, 
corrects them, and generally gives them a better turn 
than they really have. For instance, he says to 
himself — “Papa does not speak properly: he says 
‘sdvette'; baby does speak properly: he says 'serviette^" 
Naturally, what did happen was just the opposite, 
and the child had been corrected. All day long the 
boy goes on in this way, transposing events that 
really occurred, and changing the part he himself 
plays in them. The lie is the first romance of child- 
hood, and often is concocted to embellish what has 
really happened ; the romance of the philosopher — z. 
metaphysical hypothesis, and ordinarily told for the 
same purpose — is sometimes the highest class of 
fiction. Sincerity is a very complex result of social 
life ; it springs from human respect, a sense of per- 
sonal dignity, interest properly understood, etc. The 
child himself is only sincere from the spontaneity, 


transparence, and natural purity of his ; 
but unless the words leave his lips under the ""im- 
mediate pressure of some emotion, he henceforth is 
merely translating the play of incoherent images 
haunting his brain. He plays with words as with 
everything else ; he tests them, puts them in all pos- 
sible positions, combines the same ideas in the most 
unexpected way, and makes phrases just as he makes 
houses,” ** gardens,” and “ pies ” out of sand, without 
troubling himself about reality. And when he has 
taken a false direction, his persistence is due to his 
efforts to mark his personality. In a word, he is 
perpetually confusing what he really has done with 
what he would have liked to do, what he has seen 
done, what he has said he has done, and what he has 
been told he did. The past is to him the dominant 
image in the confusion of interwoven images. 

In proportion as the child has a natural turn for 
invention, and is careless of the reality of his stories, 
he is the less a hypocrite and a dissembler. The real 
lie, the moral lie, is dissimulation, which only arises 
from fear ; it is in direct ratio to the ill-judged 
severity of parents, and to unscientific education. 
Far from being naturally inclined to hide an act of 
disobedience, the child is rather led to tell it, and to 
place it in bold relief, because in his eyes it is a mark 
of personal independence. My little lad always 
comes and tells me the little follies he has committed 
in the course of the day, sometimes in a boasting 
view, sometimes duly penitent ; I have made it a rule 
never to punish him for anything he thus tells me of 
his own accord, but only when I catch him in the act; 
my only object is to substitute repentance for satis- 
faction in these acts of folly, and I am gradually 



succeeding in this by gentle and always very short 

To reproduce a fact or a story with changes is a 
fertile source of amusement for children, but they 
have difficulty in doing it It is really hard work to 
them, as we may see when we watch them in the act. 
A little four-year-old friend of mine said to me : 
“ Listen, I am going to tell you a story ; but it is not 
the story of little Poucet.^ Once upon a time there 
lived in a forest a very little boy, the son of a wood- 
cutter ; but it was not little Poucet,” etc. And so the 
story went on, always accompanied by the parenthesis, 
“ This is like the story of little Poucet, but it is not 
really the same story.” ^ 

The true culture of the imagination is Art in its 
various phases : the child must be made an — z.e., 

we must introduce into the spontaneous play of his 
imagination the laws of the true and the beautiful, 
which constitute, so to speak, the very morality of the 
imagination. Education, therefore, ought to be pro- 
foundly eestheUc. The essential part of instruction is 
to teach the child to admire what is good, to become 

^ This is our old friend ** Hop-o’-my-thumb, (Tr.) 

2 A little girl is often much more devoted to an old, spoiled, and 
disfigured doll than to a new doll, although possessing a face of a 
much more human character, because her imagination has more power 
over the former than the latter, and she transfigures it by her recollec- 
tions or the fictions of the moment. “One day,” said a lady, telling 
me her recollections, “I wanted to play more seriously at being 
‘ mother.’ I was then a biggish girl. I left all my dolls, and making 
a bundle of my table napkin, I spent half the night cradling this 
improvised baby in my arms.” 

It is said that what little girls really are attached to in their dolls is 
the representation of the children they may have in after years, that 
they are simply playing at being “mother.” This is not quite true. 

“ When I was a little girl, I had a big ball of various colours that I 
was really passionately fond of ; I never let it out of my sight ; I used 



himself capable of imagining things pretty, beautiful, 
and graceful. Knowledge properly so called, I again 
repeat, only comes afterwards, and its moralising 
influence only begins, as it has been pointed out, at 
the moment it ceases to be merely a tool and becomes 
an artistic object 

An image is the best instrument for clearing up the 
ideas of a child — perhaps of all of us. The poet is 
pre-eminently he who best perceives the relation of 
form to emotion and thought ; he elicits by an image 
what is latent and ignored within us. That is why 
the ancients saw in the poet an almost divine being — 
at any rate a being divinely inspired ; that is why 
they picture Orpheus as the educator even of Nature 
herself, and that is why they made of their poets the 
first and the only educators, so to speak, of their 
youth. The moral, thinking, and feeling being has 
yet to be created in the child ; and just as we do not 
profess to leave the child to discover the fundamental 
laws of science (assuming him capable of such dis- 
covery), so we ought not to expect him unaided to 
attain to all the most elevated sentiments ; he must 
be brought to such a level little by little ; he must be 
taught not only the discoveries and acquisitions, but 
also the ideal aspirations of the human mind, from 

to clasp it to my heart as if it were a living being very dear to me, and 
I always used the utmost precaution when I played with it for fear of 
breaking it or hurting it. I used to feel a kind of regret that a ball 
had to bounce up and down in all directions; in reality I only loved it 
because it was a companion, a real friend. The doll’s eyes have no 
expression but what the child gives it, and the expression is only given 
in the process of time. To love a being you must live with it, and 
this is still more true of dolls than men.” 

“ The less individuality the doll has, the more it is appreciated by 
the child, who can the better utilise it as a lay figure in many different 
characters.” — Gallon, Enquiries into Human Faculty^ p. 108. (Tr.) 



which, in fact, all science springs. In young people 
especially an appeal must be made to the heart, the 
imagination, and the senses, before addressing the 
intellect; before the imagination can see, every object 
must have form and colour. Even the heart needs 
the illumination of the eyes. Thus the young child, 
when incapable of noticing the care lavished upon it, 
is nevertheless conscious of the mother’s love by the 
sudden gentleness of her glance, by her caressing 
gestures, by the accent of her voice as she seems to 
linger over the lullaby. That is the tenderness of the 
mother made visible to the eyes and to the heart; 
and therefore it is the poetry of maternal love. The 
distinctive characteristic of poetry is that it surges up 
into the heart and overflows just as love itself; it out- 
strips the visible form in which it is manifested, and 
beyond this it presents something of the infinite. 
The sculptor is as the poet When the chisel hews 
the marble, it is not to embody ” in it the idea, but 
rather to give birth to the idea, and to make it issue 
from inert matter; as the statue “leaps” from the 
block, as the outlines become definite and the features 
appear, the expression — ^which gives life and reality 
to the whole — at the same time seems to emerge; 
like an impalpable and luminous ray of light, it runs 
over and plays on this inert matter from which it 
springs, on the visible shape above which it hovers, 
and thus it is projected into our eyes, our hearts, and 
the very depths of our being. Poetry is still more 
expressive. By its aid the sense for words becomes 
wider, images reach the point of symbolism. As 
poetry leaves us to guess more than it tells us, it is 
within the scope of alike the youngest and the ripest 
minds, each understanding it according to its powers. 


In its deepest sense it appears to us as the mirror in 
which are . reflected and blended into a single image 
what our eyes perceive in the outer world, and what 
out thought anticipates or divines in the apparently 
impenetrable inner world. Let us then teach our 
children to know, and especially to understand, the 
poetry to which at all periods of life we return so 
many times, sometimes for help to hope, sometimes 
for help to forget 

The aesthetic qualities are the most likely to be trans- 
mitted by heredity; it is therefore of importance that 
they should be maintained in their purity, and unceas- 
ingly developed. The Greek was born with natural 
taste, with an eye and an ear for the beautiful. So it 
is with the Frenchman. Sense and sentiment play 
a leading rdh in aesthetics. Now perfection and 
delicacy of sense and sentiment are transmitted by 
heredity. They may also be lost ; we must be care- 
ful not to allow such a precious heritage to pass away 
from us through our neglect of aesthetic education. 

‘‘ Are the fine arts necessary to the people ? ” 
Pedagogues, says Tolstoi, as a rule hesitate and are 
perplexed in dealing with this question. Plato alone 
boldly answered it in the negative.^ Some say. 
Yes, but with certain restrictions ; it would be detri- 
mental to social order if every one had the oppor- 
tunity of being an artist.” Others say, “ Certain arts 
can only exist in a certain degree in a certain class 
of society.” Again, “ the arts require exclusive and 
single-hearted service.” And finally, “great talent 
should be afforded the opportunity of entire devotion 

1 Plato, Republic, bk. iii., sec. c\pi,-—Vide Nettleship’s Essay on 
“The Theory of Education in Plato’s Republic,” in Abbott’s BelUnica 
(Rivington), pp. 113-130. (Tr.) 




to art” Tolstoi’s conclusion is that all this is unfair. 
He believes that the want of artistic enjoyment and 
culture exists in all human beings, whatever their race 
or environment; that this is a legitimate craving, and 
should be satisfied. Elevating this maxim to the 
dignity of an axiom, he adds that if the pleasures and 
the universal culture of art are fraught with incon- 
venience and discord, this is due to the character and 
tendencies of our art ; " we should give to the young 
generation the opportunity of creating art that will be 
new alike in matter and fundamental construction,” 
“Every child of the masses has the same — nay, 
greater rights to the pleasures of art than we, the 
children of the privileged classes, whom the impera- 
tive necessity of protracted toil does not constrain, 
whom all the luxuries of life surround.” And again, 
“One of these two must hold: either the arts in 
general are harmful and useless, which is not so 
strange a theory as it seems at the first glance ; or, 
every individual; whatever his rank or occupation, has 
a right to art. To ask if the masses have a right to 
art is tantamount to asking if they have a right to 
food, if they have a right to satisfy the necessities of 
their human nature.” No! The question is not a 
question of right ; what is of importance is to know if 
the food we offer or refuse to the masses is good. So, 
by placing within the reach of the masses, as far as 
is in our power, certain branches of knowledge, and 
by ascertaining the amount of harm done by those 
branches, I conclude, not that the masses are vicious 
because they do not accept that knowledge, not that 
they are as yet too undeveloped to accept and utilise 
it, but that the knowledge itself is abnormal and 
vicious, and that with the aid of the masses 



themselves we must devise fresh branches which will be 
suitable to all — to the fashionable world and the toil- 
ing myriads alike. Such arts, such branches of know- 
ledge as survive among us and do not seem harmful, 
but cannot survive among the masses, and do seem 
harmful, — such arts, etc., are not those that are 
generally necessary; and we live in this environ- 
ment only because we are depraved, like those who 
sit with impunity for five or six hours at a time in the 
fetid atmosphere of a workshop or a public-house, and 
who are but little inconvenienced by breathing an air 
which would prove fatal to others not inured to it. It 
may be asked : “ Who says the knowledge and the 
arts of the intellectual classes are false ? Why do you 
conclude they are false because the masses do not 
accept them ? ” All questions of this kind may be 
very simply answered: ^‘Because we are thousands, and 
they are millions. As for the trite and trivial paradox 
that preparation is needed for the appreciation of the 
beautiful, what kind of man states it, why is it stated, 
what is there to prove .it ? It is only a subterfuge for 
escape from the cul de sac into which we have been 
driven by the untenable character of our standpoint, 
viz., the making of art an exclusive privilege of a 
class. Why are the beauty of the sun, of the human 
countenance, of a ballad, of love and sacrifice, acces- 
sible to each of us, and yet we do not need special 
preparation for our appreciation of them ? ” 

" Because we are thousands, and they are millions,” 
says Tolstoi. If this is not the right of the strongest, 
at any rate it is the right of the greatest number. To 
consider false what the majority of men fail to see 
and believe, is to be rather like the contemporaries of 
Christopher Columbus, who denied the existence of 



America Should we disbelieve in the existence of 
stars merely because they are beyond our view? 
Tolstoi is certainly right when he tells us modern art 
hcLS unhealthy tendencies which we accept because we 
are accustomed to them — so accustomed to them, in 
fact, that we make a kind of abstraction of them ; we 
instinctively evade the convention of a new style, 
which has replaced what may be called the cere- 
mony ” of classical works ; we only see, and we only 
want to see, the beautiful side of a work — in fact, just 
that part of it which makes it a work of art. We 
may safely assert that if a work of art enjoys per- 
manent success, that success is due in some measure 
to whatever it possesses of the beautiful and the true. 
Tolstoi dreams of a great and popular art, quite close 
to nature, simple and elevated, pure as the air and the 
light, without the affectation, the hyper-refinement, 
and morbid character of our arts. The dream is a 
beautiful dream, and it is good to have such visions. 
Extreme of refinement is not depth, and art can only 
gain by being— at any rate partly — accessible to all, 
and thus tending to the universal. But to go so far 
as to condemn in art whatever is not as patent as the 
light of day is really to restrict it. Nothing will ever 
make the simplest among us seize at the outset what 
self-conscious thought has . been gradually led to 
understand and express. We must ourselves pursue 
anew the road traced out by others if we wish to 
follow them. The artistic education of the eye begins 
in little children with the mere distinctions of colours ; 
and its beginning so early in life is a further reason 
for continuing later. To maintain his position, Tolstoi 
unjustifiably connects artistic beauty with moral 
beauty. If it is true that every one can understand 



the beauty of love and sacrifice ; it is because moral 
beauty springs from the very heart of man, and is 
radiated without ; while the beauty of things, to be 
thoroughly understood, should re-enter the heart, 
being brought back thither by emotion ; the one is 
ours already, the other should become ours. We all 
can see the sun, but we do not all admire it in the 
same degree. It is a paradox to pretend that no 
initiation is necessary even for the comprehension of 
simple and natural art; unfortunately, that is just 
what we understand last of all. To believe that 
children and the populace (that mass of poor grown- 
up children) will not find more pleasure in flaring 
daubs than in fine engravings, in the swing and 
rhythm of dance music than in a sublime and simple 
song, is a pathetic instance of love for the masses 
carried to the verge of blindness. Who will give us 
an art at once noble and popular, an art that is really 
classical and in every detail educative ? Meanwhile, 
let us select from our works of art those that are the 
healthiest, simplest, and most elevated, and let us 
place them within the reach of all. Perhaps, after all 
the arts of this period of decadence have passed 
away, we shall see a new art revive and flourish, young 
and full of life, destined to become one of the forms 
of the religion of the world. 

‘‘If it is true,’^ says M. Ravaisson, “that the 
imagination of children, and especially the children 
of the masses, is always more developed than their 
reasoning powers, does it not follow, not merely that 
a place that it does not at present possess should be 
awarded to the cultivation of the imagination, but 
that such a culture should take the most prominent 
position in primary instruction?'* It is, in fact, of 



the greatest moment to direct every nascent faculty, 
especially when that faculty is connected with what 
has been called our native fancy. In these days art 
in the most general sense plays a certain part in the 
education of the higher classes ; but in the education 
of the lower classes there is nothing of the kind ; now 
children and young people of all ranks in life should 
be brought up in hym^iis et canticis : “ this is how the 
ancients nurtured their youth in a poetry at once 
religious and patriotic, and in an art derived from the 
same sources ; thus they were nurtured in the culture 
of the highest beauty. Instead of letting itself be 
almost entirely overrun by a pseudo-utilitarianism 
which leaves without culture those faculties from 
which others ought to receive an impulse, why should 
not modern education be inspired by the traditions of 
old ? And I may add, that by that inspiration the 
great problem would be solved, to which modern 
systems of pedagogy, from Rousseau to Pestalozzi 
downwards, have given an inadequate solution — 
le,, the problem how to interest children in their 
studies, especially the children of the primary schools.” 
M. Ravaisson remarks that “ beauty is the watchword 
of the universe ; ” he adds, with somewhat more truth, 
that “beauty is the watchword of education.”^ 

Without being as anxious as M. Ravaisson with 
regard to the results that purely manual work may 
have in our schools, I think that that kind of work 
which, as I have said before, is exercised upon matter, 
must be completed by both a feeling for and a study of 
form — by aesthetics. Every trade, every occurrence of 
daily life, requires what Leonardo da Vinci called “ a 
good eye.” ‘‘ It is the eye, in fact,” said this great 
^ Ravaisson, Dktimnaire de PidagogU^ article “Dessin.^' 



master, ‘‘which has discovered all the arts, from 
astronomy to navigation, from painting to the craft of 
the locksmith and carpenter, from architecture and 
hydraulics to agriculture.'’ 

Drawing and singing are the popular arts par 
excellence^ and those therefore which may be the 
least removed from nature. It will be said : If draw- 
ing is really required in the popular schools, it can 
only be technical drawing, applied to the purposes of 
life — the drawing of a plough, a machine, a vessel, 
etc,, in fact, drawing considered as auxiliary to linear 
drawing. “But,” retorts Tolstoi with considerable 
truth, “ experience has shown the inanity and injustice 
of the technical programme. Most children, after four 
months at drawing restricted to technical applications, 
with no reproductions of faces, animals, or landscapes, 
were eventually almost disgusted at the eternal copy- 
ing of technical objects ; and their feeling their craving 
for artistic drawing was so strong, that they made for 
themselves copy-books in which they drew on the 
sly, men, horses with four legs starting from the same 
point, and so on.” Every child is conscious of an 
instinct of independence which it would be dangerous 
to stifle by any teaching whatever, and which, in this 
case, is manifested by irritation against the copying of 
models for imitation. If the pupil does not learn at 
school how to create, he will only imitate all his life, 
because, when they have learned how to copy, very 
few are capable of making a personal application of 
their knowledge. “By always keeping to natural 
forms in drawing, by giving them in turn objects of 
the most diverse character to draw — i.e., leaves of 
characteristic appearance, flowers, ships, articles in 
ordinary use, tools — I tried to avoid routine and 



affectation. Thanks to this method, more than thirty 
pupils were sufficiently acquainted with the funda- 
mentals of the art to seize the relations of the lines in 
faces, and in every kind of object, and to reproduce 
those objects by clear and accurate lines. The per- 
fectly mechanical art of linear drawing is gradually 
and as it were spontaneously developed.” Leonardo 
da Vinci firmly believed in commencing drawing by 
the study of those forms offering the most character 
and beauty. Now these forms are organic and not 
merely geometrical. 

Music should become the popular art par excellence^ 
the relaxation it affords, abstracting us from our 
absorbing material cares, develops sympathy and 
sociability. To listen to music with others is to 
make all hearts beat as one with the instruments and 
voices. A concert is an ideal society into which we 
are transported, in which harmony and good under- 
standing are realised, in which life becomes a divine 
sympathy. The French are beginning to appreciate 
this view, but their appreciation has not as yet been 
carried to such an extent as to inquire how far the 
development of musical taste — so natural to all — is 
desirable, how far it is important to gradually inspire 
the nation with a love for great and beautiful music — 
the music which has a moralising influence because its 
character is elevated. Military bands and bands under 
the control of central authorities have an educative 
mission, which ought to be neither forgotten nor 
neglected. In addition, music is one of the few 
pleasures that all classes of society can appreciate 
together; it thus becomes a bond of universal 
sympathy, and of such ties there are far too 



No doubt the plastic arts are not so accessible to 
our youth as poetry and music. There is, however, 
no sufficient reason for neglecting the artistic educa- 
tion of children, even in the matter of architecture. 
Where ruins are not at hand, the plaster casts to be 
found in museums, the prints and photographs of 
which so many and so various specimens are now 
available, appeal to the eyes ; indeed, with a little 
preparation it is not difficult for the master to offer 
fitting comments on them, to reason out both the 
detail and the combined effect After a few lessons 
of this kind, the child may have a sufficient grasp of 
this character of sculpture to appreciate Mercier's 
** Quand Meme,” or Barrias* La Defense de Paris.” 

VI. Intellectucd Education. 

After moral, civic, and aesthetic teaching, let us 
examine the intellectual instruction given in our 
schools. The syllabus of primary instruction now 
comprises reading, writing, the French language, the 
elements of French literature, geography (particu- 
larly France), history (particularly that of France 
to our own days), a few general ideas on law and 
political economy, the elements of natural science, 
physics, and mathematics ; their application to agri- 
culture, hygiene, and the industrial arts; manual 
training and the use of the tools used in the principal 
trades; the elements of drawing, modelling, and 
music ; gymnastics and military exercises. Children 
can only learn and understand in the course of a few 
years so many things at once by a premature strain- 
ing of the delicate springs of young minds, and we 



run the risk of weakening at one, stroke both moral 
and intellectual energy. 

The literary, grammatical, and historical part of this 
syllabus exposes us to the danger of what the English 
call cramming. Has much been done when we have 
succeeded in filling their heads with facts, dates, 
words, and formulas ? Children do not feel the want 
of words ; it is ideas that are required ; and it is ideas 
we must give them. Unfortunately erudition invades 
everything — even grammar — in the schools. Let us 
keep for secondary education — or, still better, for 
higher instruction — historical commentaries, compara- 
tive grammar, lexicology, and phonetics. Do not 
worry children and masters with lofty speculations 
with which they have no concern. Let us fear lest, 
by carrying our imitation of the Germans too far, we 
substitute dull and dry for frivolous pedantry. 

At school and college alike scientific instruction 
becomes a storing up of facts in the memory, when 
its essential object should be the development of the 
observing and reasoning powers, and its secondary 
object the furnishing of the student with useful and 
practical ideas, in quantity no more than can be after- 
wards remembered As the number of objects of 
instruction goes on increasing, we must have recourse 
to different methods than those that obtain at present j 
we must blend lessons and recreation as often as 
possible; that is how to instruct without fatiguing. 
Hence the utility of school walks. Botany is best of 
all, because the work entailed is in the open air. If 
St Louis administered justice under an oak, surely 
the master may teach under an oak not only natural 
history, but the history of France — not forgetting the 
Druids. In order to vary the subjects, there is nothing 



to prevent an occasional journey to a mine, a factory, 
an historic building, or in fact to anything of interest 
in the neighbourhood. 

The account given by Tolsto! of his attempts at 
teaching history is full of humour. He began, as 
usual, with ancient history. But the children were 
not interested in Sesostris, the Pyramids, or the 
Egyptians. In fact, where they did remember and 
appreciate some incident, such as the story of 
Semiramis, it was accidentally, not because they 
learned anything from it, but because it was cleverly 
told. As these episodes were not of frequent occur- 
rence, Tolsto! tried Russian history, and began “ that 
melancholy, inartistic, and useless History of Russia 
which from Tchimov to Vodozov has undergone so 
many transformations.” They soon got confused 
with the Mstislavs, the Vriatschislavs, and the Bole- 
slax. The effort of remembering these " amazing ” 
names brought into play all the intellectual power of 
the children ; what these individuals had done was 
but a secondary matter. — Here he is — ^whafs his 
name? — Barikav, or what is it?” began one of the 
children, — ‘‘marched against — whafs his name?” 
— “Mouslav, L^on Nikolaievitch?” murmurs a 
little girl. — “Mstislav,” I answer. — “ And cut the 
enemy in pieces,” boldly resumes the boy. — “ Stop, 
now ! There was a river. And the son who massed 
his men and cut the foe in pieces? what was 
his name?” — “What queer history!” says Semka. 
“Mstislav, Tchislav? — Oh, what is the good of all 
this?” — Those who had a good memory tried to 
remember, and, to tell the truth, made very shrewd 
remarks, for fear of getting their ears boxed. But all 
this sort of thing was really monstrous, and it was 



pitiful to see the poor children. They were like 
‘‘chickens to whom sand and grain are alternately 
thrown, and who get wild, and cluck, and struggle, 
and are ready to pluck the feathers out of each 
other.'" Read Clotaire, Lothaire, Chilp^ric, for 
Tchislav and Mstislav, and you have a similar scene 
in a French school. 

The taste for history in most children, says Tolstoi, 
succeeds the taste for art He made several further 
attempts at teaching history, beginning with our own 
times, and found the results very satisfactory. He 
took the Crimean War, the reign of the Emperor 
Nicholas, and the story of 1812. The Napoleonic 
war was, as might have been expected, the greatest 
success. “ The recollection of that class is one of the 
most memorable in my life.” As soon as Tolstoi 
began to tell the children how the theatre of the war 
was transferred into Russia, from every side arose 
exclamations and cries of the keenest interest. — 
“ What, is he going to conquer us too ? ” — “ Don't be 
frightened; Alexander was quite his match,” said a 
lad who knew the story of Alexander. Tolstoi had 
to dash their hopes to the ground ; “ the time of 
triumph had not yet come.” Their indignation was 
aroused when they heard of the plan to marry 
Napoleon to the Czar's sister, and of how the Czar 
met Napoleon on the bridge as his equal. — “Listen 
to that I ” said Petka, with a threatening gesture. 
— “ Go on ! go on with the stoiy ! ” — When 
Alexander refused to submit, that is to say, to 
declare war, general approbation was expressed. 
When Napoleon with twelve nations marched on 
Russia, arousing Germany and Poland against us, the 
children were overwhelmed with grief. 



I had a German friend in the room. “ Ah ! you 
were against us too?’’ cries Petka (our best story- 
teller). “ Go on ! shut up ! ” cried the rest. The 
retreat of the troops was a cruel blow to the listeners, 
and from all sides arose how? and why? They 
abused Kutusof and Barklay. “What a coward 
Kutiisof was!” “You wait!” said another. “But 
why did he retreat?” asked a third. When they 
came to the battle of Borodino, and Tolstoi was 
obliged to tell them that after all the Russians did 
not conquer, he could not help pitying them ; “ it was 
obvious that I had given them a terrible shock” 
“Well, if we did not beat them, neither did they 
beat us.” When Napoleon reached Moscow and 
demanded the keys and homage, they raised a loud 
cry of disgust. Of course the burning of Moscow 
caused great satisfaction. 

Finally, there came the triumph, — then the 
retreat — “As soon as Napoleon left Moscow, 
Kutiisof began to follow him and attack him,” said 
Tolstoi. “ He let him see what for,” said Petka, who, 
all of a glow, was sitting by the Count, and in his 
excitement was twisting his dirty little fingers. At 
Petka’s words the whole class was seized with a 
paroxysm of proud enthusiasm. One little fellow 
was nearly crushed, and they never noticed it — 
“That’s right! — That’s how he got the keys!” — 
Tolstoi went on to tell how the Russians chased the 
French ; the boys were greatly distressed to hear of 
the delay on the Beresina, the laggard was treated 
with contempt, and Petka shouted : “ I would have 
shot him dead for being late ! ” — “ Then came pity 
for the frozen Frenchmen. Soon the border was 
crossed, and the Germans, who had been fighting 



against us so far, now threw themselves at our 

Again the children remember the German present 
in the room, ** That’s how you behaved, was it? 
First you were against us, and then when' you found 
us the stronger, you turned round ! ” And suddenly 
all got up and began to shout “ouf!” so that they 
could have been heard down the street 

When they had calmed down, Tolstoi* went on, and 
told them how the Russians escorted Napoleon to 
Paris, how they set the rightful king on the throne, 
how they enjoyed their triumphs and feasted. But 
the memory of the Crimean War spoiled their 
pleasure, “‘Just wait till I’m grown up; I’ll pay 
them back ! ’ cried Petka. If the allied armies had at 
that moment stormed the Shevardinsky redoubt or 
the Malakof Tower, we should have driven them 
back.” It was already late when Tolstoi finished. 
As a general rule, children are in bed asleep by this 
time. But no one was sleepy. As Tolstoi rose, to 
the general amazement, out crept Taraska from 
under the arm-chair, and looked at him with eager, 
but at the same time serious face. “ How did you 
get under there?” “He has been there from the 
first ! ” said some one. There was no need to ask 
him if he understood ; it was evident from his face. 
“ What can you tell us about it ? ” “ I ? I can tell it 
all. I am going to tell about it when I get home.” 
“ And 1.” “ And I too.” “ Won’t it be too long ? ” 
“No, indeed!” And off they rushed downstairs, one 
vowing to pay the French out, another abusing the 
German, another repeating how Kutiisof had taken 
his revenge. 

“ * You told the story solely from the Russian point 


of view/ said my German friend, whom the boys had 
hooted that evening. ‘You should hear that story 
told among us Germans. You told them nothing 
about the battles for German liberty.' I agreed that 
my narrative was not a history, but a tale adapted for 
the purpose of kindling national sentiment." 

Tolstoi eventually was convinced that, as far as 
history is concerned, persons and events interest the 
scholars in proportion to their dramatic character, and 
not in proportion to their historic significance — that is 
to say, in proportion to the artistic nature of the 
historian's work, or more often because of their con- 
nection with popular tradition. Romulus and Remus 
interested them, not because the two brothers founded 
the most powerful empire in the world, but because 
the story was pretty, mysterious, and attractive — the 
wolf that suckled them ! etc. The story of Gracchus 
is interesting because it is as dramatic as the story of 
Pope Gregory VII. and the humiliated Emperor. “ In 
fact, in the child, or in any one whose experience is 
incomplete, there is no taste for history in itself ; it is 
only a taste for something artistic," 

According to Tolstoi, the old superstition has passed 
away, that there is nothing more terrible than for 
young people to grow up without learning who were 
Jaroslav and Otho, or that there is such a province as 
Estremadura. To inspire the young with a desire to 
know how the human race lives, has lived, has been 
transformed and developed in different parts of the 
earth, to know the eternal laws of evolution, to 
understand natural phenomena, to know how the 
human race is distributed over the surface of the 
earth, — that is quite another thing. “ Perhaps," says 
Tolstoi, “ it is useful to inspire such desires, but I do 


not think Thiers, or Segur, or Obodovski, will help 
us much. For this purpose two elements are neces- 
sary — sentiments at once patriotic and artistic.” 

Patriotism, in fact, should be the soul of history ; 
history must be used as a basis for moral instruction ; 
but when we have to deal with morality, respect for 
truth is one of the first conditions. Is there really any 
need, as Tolstoi imagines, to alter history to make it 
interesting ? If children like stories, it is equally true 
that they prefer true stories. To turn history into 
a series of dramas is to entirely misconceive the 
grandeur and unity of its character, to misplace its 
interest, to parcel it out, if I may say so, in order 
to divide it among a few heroes, who, in fact, to 
deserve this interest will have to satisfy all the rules 
of dramatic art. 

No ! what we call history is not the history of a 
few men, but of a whole race, of whole races ; and 
when the race is the hero, the hero is always in 
evidence, and the interest ought not to fail on each 
page with the fall of this or that given personage. 
Once more, the interest of history is entirely in the 
ideas, sentiments, and efforts of mankind, not of a few 
men ; the poetry of history is the poetry of life in 
general, not of a few lives. Even if children are sad- 
dened by hearing of defeats where they hoped for 
victories, ought we therefore to regret that life, which it 
is not in our power to change for them, should appear 
to them in its reality ? The sole object of considera- 
tion should be the age of the children. 

As long as children are very young, it is clear that 
they can only dip into the subject, and cannot read it 
in the proper sense of the word ; history to them will 
be a simple succession of images to which will be 



attached whatever events are within their mental 
grasp. But in the study of history, however old the 
child may be, there can be no question of the utter 
inutility of fastidious nomenclature, of trivial facts — 
arbitrary in their causes, and not followed out in their 
consequences. As M. Lavisse puts it, “ What trace is 
left after a few years have elapsed ? ” Vague recollec- 
tions are vaguer still ; the few well-known features of 
historic figures are effaced; the divisions of the chrono- 
logical framework are confused Clovis, Charlemagne, 
St. Louis, Henry IV., fall from their places, as if they 
were portraits suspended from a loosened nail on a 
plaster wall.” We must therefore choose our facts 
more wisely ; we must drop everything that is useless 
and trivial ; we must throw all the light on those of 
importance ; we must envoi ve the series so that the 
pupil may know how France has lived. The history 
of manners and institutions cannot be taught to the 
young by abstract terms, phrases, and theories ; but, 
using the elementary ideas every child possesses, 
and words with which they are familiar, it is 
possible to describe, in simple terms, the con- 
dition of individuals and races.^ ‘^Who is there in 

^ M, Lavisse was in a primary school in Paris when a young master was 
beginning a lesson on the feudal system. The young fellow did not under- 
stand his work, for he talked about hereditary offices and benefices, and 
the eight-year-old children he was addressing were naturally absolutely 
indifferent. The head of the school enters, interrupts the master, and 
addresses the whole class. Has any one ever seen a feudal castle? ” 
No answer. Then the master asks a child who comes from the faubourg 
St. Antoine, Have you never been to Vincennes?’* Yes, sir.” “Well, 
then, you have seen a feudal castle.” Here is a point of departure 
found in the present. “ What is this castle like? ” Several answer at 
once. The master takes one of them to the blackboard ; the child 
draws a rude sketch, which the master corrects. He also sketches in 
the battlements. What are those?” No one knew. He explains. 




France to teach us what constitutes France?” asks 
M. Lavisse. It is not the family, for in the family is 
neither authority, discipline, nor moral teaching ; nor 
is it society, for in society the mention of civic duties 

“ Now what use were they ? *’ He makes them guess that they were 
for defence. “ What used they to fight with ? — with guns ? ” Most of 
the children answer, “ No, sir I ” ** Well, what did they fight with? ” 

A budding savant at the end of the class answers, ‘‘With bows.*’ 
“What is a bow?” Ten answer at once, “A cross-bow.” The 
master smiles, and explains the difference. Then he explains the 
difficulty of taking a castle, whose walls were broad and high, by 
the bows, and even by the machines of those days, and pro- 
ceeds;— “When you are workmen, if you are good workmen, 
you will come across the ruins of castles when you travel about for 
your pleasure or for work.” He names Montleb^ry and other ruins 
near Paris. “ In each castle there lived a lord. Now what did all 

those lords do? ” “They fought.” . Then the master depicts the feudal 
wars, the knights on horseback and clad in their armour, and not a 
child loses a single word of what he is saying. “ But they could not 
take a castle with lances and cuirasses. So the war was never over. 
Who suffered most of all during these wars ? Those who had no castles 
—the peasants who in those days worked for the lord. A cottage 
^belonging to the peasants of a lord is burned by his neighbour. ‘ Ah I you 
burn my cottages; I will burn yours,' says the lord who is thus attacked. 
He did burn them, and not only the cottages but the crops. And what 
happens when they burn the crops? ” “ There is a famine.” “ And 

canthey live without food?”. The whole class ; “No, sir!” “Then 
a remedy had to be found, and the remedy was called ‘The Truce of 
God.’” Then he comments on it;— “A curious law it was. Just 
think I They said to the brigands, ‘From Saturday evening to 
Wednesday morning you must be quiet, but the rest of the time don’t 
trouble yourselves fight, burn, pillage, and slay, as much as ever you 
like 1 ’ Were they mad in those days ? ” A voice : “ Yes, indeed.” 
“ No, they were not mad. Now listen attentively. There are idle hoys 
here.^ I do all I can to make them work the whole week, but I would 
be fairly content if I saw them working up to Wednesday. The Church 
would have been pleased if they had not fought at all, but as she could 
not prevail on the lords to give fighting up altogether, she tried to keep 
the great lords at peace for half the week. That was always something 
pined. But the Church did not succeed. It was a case of force against 
force, and the king had to bring these people to reason.” Then the 
master explained how the lords were not all of equal rank, that the lord 



calls forth a jest The school must tell the French 
what France is. The final object of instruction in 
history will be to instil into the hearts of every child in 
every school a stronger sentiment than “ the frivolous 

of the castle had a still higher and more powerful lord above him, living 
in another castle. He proceeds to give a pretty accurate idea of the 
feudal scale, and at the head of all he places the king. When people 
fight together, who stops them ? ” Answer : “ The police.” ** Well, 
the king was a policeman. What is done with a man who fights and 
kills some one?” “He is tried before a judge.” ** Well, the king 
was a judge. Can the prisoner escape the police and the judge ? ” “ No, 
sir.” Well, the kings of old were as useful to France as the police 
and the judges are now. Afterwards the kings behaved badly, but at 
first they did good. Did I say as useful as the judges nowadays? 
Much more useful, for there were more brigands then than now. 
Those lords were fierce fellows, were they not ? ” The class : “ Yes, 
sir. ” “ And the people, were they any better ? ” Answer, unanimous, 
with a tone of conviction : “Yes, sir.” ** Ah, boys ! they were not. 
When they were aroused, they were terrible fellows. They, as well as 
the lords, pillaged, burned, and killed ; they killed women and children. 
But remember they didn’t know the difference between good and bad. 
They had never been taught how to read.” 

“ With these words, which are only half true, ended,” says M. Lavisse, 
“a lesson lasting barely half-an-hour. Let us train masters such as 
this. Put into their hands books in which may be found, laid down in 
simple terms, the main facts of the history of civilisation. Will they 
not become capable of teaching children the history of France? ” 

“ It is often said, neglect the earlier pages of history. Of what im- 
portance are the Merovingians, the Carlovingians, or even the Capets ? 
Our history is barely a century old. Begin with our own times.” “ A 
pretty way of forming settled and solid minds,” remarks M, Lavisse, 
to imprison them in an age of burning struggles, when needs had to 
be satisfied and hatred glutted without delay 1 Truly, a prudent 
method to start with the French Revolution instead of ending with it,, 
of making children sympathise with that unique, even though legitimate, 
spectacle of rebellion, of making them believe that every good French- 
man ought to take the Tuileries at least once in his life, twice if possible, 
and that if the Tuileries are destroyed he may long some day to take by 
assault the Palais-Bourbon or the filysSe, so as to deserve the name of 
patriot ! Not teach the past I The poetry of the past is a necessity of 
our present existence.” And I may add that the lessons of the past are 
of equal value with its poetry. Without the past, the present is inex- 


and fragile vanity ” which is unbearable in prosperity, 
and which, in the face of national disaster, collapses 
and gives place to despair, to self-disparagement, to 
admiration of the foreigner, and to self-contempt 


The part played by the schoolmaster and by 
geography in the victories of the Germans in Austria 
and in France has been much overrated. Though 
the discipline of the German troops was exemplary, 
considerable reduction must be made in the estimate 
generally held as to the education of the soldiers. 
Besides, reading, writing, and map-lore are not 
enough of themselves to win battles. M. Hoenig, 
the author of a book entitled, Traiti sur la discipline 
au point de vue de rarmie^ de rEtaf, et du peuple^ tells 
us that the recruits enrolled during the campaign had 
forgotten most of what they had learned at school. 
For some years the knowledge of these recruits was 
tested by examination. Now, the simplest facts of 
their own country were often unknown to these 
young men when they joined the regiment. ‘^We 
collected a number of questions on the country of 
their birth. The answers were incredible. After 
the war of 1870-71, many did not even know the 
name of the Emperor of Germany.” This does not 
prevent us from believing that the simple German 

plicable, nor can it take its true place in the chain of events; we ought 
to know that the causes which will make the future already exist, not 
merely in the present, but also in the past, where we can — to a certain 
extent— judge of them in action. , If there is any way of avoiding the 
mistakes of the past, surely it is familiarity with what happened in the 



soldiers knew enough geography to find their way 
about the roads of the invaded territory. Geography 
in these days is no longer geography ; it is, as 
has been remarked, encyclopaedic — the universal 
science: astronomy and geology; mineralogy, botany, 
zoology, physics, history, and political economy; 
anthropology, mythology, sociology ; it is linguistics 
and phonetics ; the history of races and creeds, of 
agriculture, of industry, etc., eta Estimated in 
this way, geography must be the most useful of 

Tolstoi gives us an account of his perplexities on 
the subject of geography. After having explained 
cold and warmth, he came to grief when he tried to 
explain winter and summer. He repeated his ex- 
planation, and with the aid of a candle and a ball he 
made himself, far as he could judge,^’ perfectly 
intelligible. They listened with much attention and 
interest; what took their fancy most was that they 
could learn what their parents refused to believe, 
and would be able to brag of their wisdom. After ‘ 
Tolstoi had finished, the sceptical Semka, the most 
intelligent of the boys, asked : “ But if the earth 
moves as you say, how is our isba always in the 
same spot ? It ought to change its position 1 ” Tolstoi 
thought to himself: “If my explanation is a 
thousand yards beyond the grasp of the most 
intelligent of the boys, what can the slower children 
understand of it?” He began again, explained, drew 
illustrations, quoted all the proofs of the roundness of 
the earth — the circumnavigation of the globe, the 
mast of a vessel appearing before the hull ; and other 
proofs ; then fondly nursing the idea that they under- 
stood at last, he made them write it all out They 



all wrote : — “ The earth is like a ball ; ” then the first, 
and then the second proof. “The third proof they 
had forgotten, and they came and asked me what it 
was. It was evident that their main effort was to 
remember the proofs. Not once only, but ten, a 
hundred times, I renew my explanations, but always 
without success. In an examination all the children 
would answer, and will now answer, satisfactorily 
enough, but I do not think they really understand ; 
and when I remember that I was thirty before I 
understood it myself, I readily make allowance for 
them. Just as in my own case, they believe on the 
word of another that the earth is round, etc., but they 
do not understand it Once I understood less than 
they did, for in my childhood my nurse informed me 
that at the end of the world the earth and sky met, 
and that there the babas wash their clothes and hang 
them out on the sky to dry. Our pupils are now 
grown up, but even at the present moment ideas, 
absolutely opposite to those I tried to inculcate, still 
persist in their minds. It will take a long time yet 
to efface these explanations and the image they form 
of the universe, before they can understand.” To 
this the answer is, that we must not flatter ourselves 
that we are ever perfectly understood by the young 
when we are treating of matters which, after all, are 
really beyond their grasp. The faculty of understand- 
ing, with all other faculties, takes time to develop; 
the essential step is therefore the first, the only step 
which costs any effort, and it is always good to 
have that step over. To postpone till later what 
cannot be entirely understood to-day is a bad plan ; 
later there will be so much to learn, and above all it 
must be prepared for. We must take the mind in 


hand at an early period if we wish to bend it to a 
kind of gymnastics. 

Just as in history the idea is to begin at the end, 
so in geography the idea has gradually taken root 
and grown that we must begin with the school and 
the village. The experiment has been made in 
Germany. Tolstoi, discouraged by his attempts to 
teach ordinary geography, began with the class-room, 
the house, the village. “ As in the case of drawing 
plans, these exercises are not useless ; but to know 
what comes after our village scarcely interests them at 
all, because they all know it is T^liatinkis, and they 
are not at all interested in what comes after T^liatinkis, 
because no doubt it is a village just like Teliatinkis, 
and T<§liatinkis with its fields does not interest 
them in the least I tried giving them centres of 
reference, such as Moscow and Kief ; but they got so 
muddled that it came to simply learning by heart 
I tried map-drawing, which amused them and helped 
the memory. Then the question again occurred — 
why should we help the memory ? I tried once more 
stories of life in the polar and equatorial regions; they 
listened with pleasure, and were able to repeat them 
all afterwards, except the geographical part In fact, 
drawing a plan of the village was drawing plans, not 
geography ; map-drawing was drawing maps, not 
geography ; stories of animals, forests, towns, ice, etc., 
were stories, and not geography. Geography was 
only what they learned by heart” The children, 
Tolstoi adds, remember the story, but rarely retain the 
name and position on the map of the district in which 
the story is laid ; events are all that are generally 
remembered. “When Mitrofanouchka studies geo- 
graphy, his mother says to him : ‘ What is the use of 


learning all those countries? The coachman will 
take you wherever you want to go.’ ” Tolstoi* thinks 
that nothing more damning has ever been alleged 
against geography, and that all the scientists in the 
world cannot answer this invincible argument “ I 
speak very seriously. What is the good of knowing 
the precise position of Barcelona, when I have reached 
the age of thirty-three, and have never felt the want 
of that information ? A description of Barcelona, 
it seems to me, could not develop any intellectual 
faculties, be it ever so picturesque. What is the use 
of Semka or Fedka learning the Marline canal and its 
source, if, as far as they can judge, they will never be 
anywhere near it ? And even if Semka should have 
to go there, it does not matter a straw whether he has 
or has not learned about it before ; he will learn its 
navigation by practice, and will learn it well.” 

It may be asked how far it is wise to lay stress 
throughout many lessons on the school and the village. 
It is never a good thing to make men or the world 
any smaller, even in the child mind. The moment 
the school, the village, and the children themselves 
become the centre of interest, the children will con- 
sider it perfectly useless to trouble their heads about 
other lands which do not affect them directly. It 
may be answered that these preliminaiy and exclusive 
lessons are only a starting-point ; that may be so for 
you ; but children, whose minds are as small as their 
legs, become prone, if we do not take care, to limit 
the world to their immediate horizon, and to make a 
universe of the little world within* their sight It 
would be far safer to make use of the love for the 
marvellous by which children are possessed, to interest 
them in distant countries. Since they so readily 



remember stories of animals, forests, etc., it is not 
impossible, by frequent repetition, to connect the 
events with geographical names. A child's memory 
is a good servant, always ready for work, provided 
the effort be not of long duration. I have known 
a little boy of three and a half to be keenly interested 
in America, and to remember the name perfectly, 
because he had been told that the sun shone there in 
our night, so that the children in that extraordinary 
country were getting ready for play when he was 
thinking of going to sleep. 

I may add that it is not a matter of such indifference 
as Tolstoi supposes to absolutely ignore countries the 
children are never likely to see. It is a well-known fact 
that as we travel our minds expand, therefore we ought, 
at least, to get the children to lend a ready ear to all 
sorts of stories about different countries and their 
inhabitants. Besides, Tolstoi later on is forced to 
confess that reading travels must necessarily be use- 
ful. Finally — perhaps especially — it is wise to intro- 
duce method into education, so that we may control 
and direct the child's powers, and prevent them 
wandering by the way. Sequence in idea and effort 
by no means implies prosiness. Only do not forget 
that by discussing the interest of a thing we ipso 
facto almost refuse to acknowledge that it has 
interest ; and that, on the other hand, a kind of official 
interest is attached to all work done without an 
arriere-pensie ^ — an interest that the children will have 
for good or evil at their service, if they are not left sole 
judges of what is or is not useful, if they are not left 
of their own will to abandon or pursue the work they 
have undertaken to do. 

We certainly cannot take Tolstoi' as our guide, for 



he is a poet in the pursuit of an utopian method of 
education — a method without rules or discipline. But 
there is a measure of truth in his psychological obser- 
vations on geography. Geography is a pretext for 
learning a multitude of subjects ; it is in itself an 
unpleasing subject, and ought to be reduced to what 
is absolutely necessary. To adopt Tolstoi's plan, with 
less dilettante pupils, we would start from the geo- 
graphy of the district, and proceed to the description 
of more and more remote countries, telling how they 
were discovered, the manners and customs of their 
inhabitants, and the productions of the soil. In a 
word, what must be taught by the aid of geography 
is human, national, and international life. 

In conclusion, whatever form of science has to be 
taught in school, teaching must never be a matter of 
memory, erudition, or pure knowledge, but rather of 
intellectual, moral, and civic training. To maintain 
the balance between the various branches of instruc- 
tion, to take the essential part of each, and to reject 
without hesitation every intrusive detail, — that is the 
task of education. Its object, and its only object, is 
mental development, not in a single direction, but in 
all directions ; to lead the mind, in the most general 
possible way, to the crest of contemporary science, 
and finally to “launch it upon the waves." In the 
sequel, from whatever quarter the wind may blow, 
any direction will be favourable to the mind thus 



I. Object of a Classical Education , — Ancient and modern languages 
as means of education — Method in the study of literature — Necessity 
for giving the study of literature a more philosophic character. 

H. History, 

III. Science , — Its advantages and drawbacks— Methods of scientific 

IV. Technical Instruction, 

V. Competition and Examinatiofis, 

VI. Higher Edtication, 

VII. The Great Schools , — The Ecole Poly technique. 

I. Object of a Classical Education, 

A secondary classical education should develop the 
faculties of young people harmoniously and for their 
own sake. It employs for this purpose the great 
taiths, the beauties of poetry and eloquence — in fact, 
that part of morality and goodness which is inherent 
in the works of the best moralists, philosophers, poets, 
and men of letters. Two conditions are necessary — 
models and practice. The models should be really 
classical — i,e,^ displaying literary beauties in all their 
purity and perfect harmony. It is not a question of 
ascertaining where the most genius lies, but where we 
shall find most of those qualities that we can imitate, 
and the fewest- of those faults we can avoid. We do 
not hope to implant genius in children; give them 


taste, a love for the beautiful, a critical sense, and at 
the same time a certain ability to think, and a talent 
for composition and style. Now, the models in 
question are all given. In regard to them there is 
no dispute: if we can teach enough Greek and Latin 
to make children study the masterpieces of antiquity, 
no one will deny that they will have the best literary 
education. Just as a study of Greek sculpture or 
Italian painting is the best education for the plastic 

Greco-Latin antiquity has one quality of supreme 
importance from the pedagogic point of view : it is 
not romantic. There is therefore no risk of develop- 
ing in the young a wandering imagination, sometimes 
straying in pursuit of chimeras, sometimes lost in idle 
reveries; there is no longer a risk of developing a more 
or less factitious sentimentality. Transporting the 
young into an environment distant and diferent from 
our own, it prevents them from becoming prematurely 
familiar with that side of modern literature which is 
too impassioned and too exciting. At this distance 
of time that unrest is gone, all is reduced to a beauty 
more intellectual than emotional. Besides, reason is 
the leading characteristic of ancient, and especially 
Roman, literature, and children want reason, good 
sense, and good taste more than anything else. 

Objection has been taken to the difficulty of the 
classics and the length of time devoted to them, and 
it has been proposed to substitute modern languages 
in their place. The answer is — that in practice the 
teaching of modern languages would inevitably tend 
towards practical expediency; its main object would 
eventually be to learn to speak foreign languages, for 
they irresistibly present an aspect of immediate and 


obvious utility. Besides, the great English and German 
classics do not possess the classical qualities in a suffi- 
cient degree. Modern literatures are sometimes rather 
barbarous, sometimes too refined and unbalanced, 
almost always too passionate, too much invaded by 
what Pascal called the amorous passions. Woman is 
the inspiring muse of modern literature, and there is 
a danger of getting the minds of children possessed 
with the “eternal womanly.” The loves of Greeks 
and Romans are so far off and so vague that, as a 
rule, they do not have the same disturbing influence. 
And at any rate we can rapidly pass over that sort 
of thing, and choose passages relating to love of 
fatherland, or to domestic life. In fact, we are 
hereditarily and historically connected with Greek 
and Latin antiquity: there is nothing more natural 
than that this connection should be maintained, for 
after all the Greeks and Latins remain the incompar- 
able masters of literature. As far as we know, they 
have not deserved to be hunted away by either 
Teutons or Saxons. What would be gained by it? 
After the seven or eight years at college always 
necessary to a complete education, the same ignor- 
ance of Latin and Greek of which we complain at 
the present moment would be found to exist with 
respect to German and English. It is not linguistic 
acquirements we have to consider, but the acquired 
development of mind and taste. From this point of 
view let the old classics — ^the masters of the French 
classics — remain a part of the curriculum. 

Free oral translations have been adopted in the 
French colleges instead of long written exercises; 
semi-passive exercises instead of active exercises, 
themes, verses, speeches. In my opinion this is a 

education and heredity. 


false step. It used to be thought that the important 
thing was to know from end to end as many classical 
works as possible ; but it is not a matter of quantity. 
Besides, the ancients — not only Homer, but almost 
all the rest — nod a good deal. A classical fragment 
thoroughly studied is worth a whole book read in 
haste. To be attached to an author, to penetrate his 
thought in every phrase, to follow it by comparing 
one phrase with another — that is what gives strength 
and logic to the intellect Besides, there is involved 
in this method a careful study of form ; the author 
should be faithfully interpreted, nothing must be 
added to or taken from his meaning; the sense, 
movement, colour, and harmony must all be faith- 
fully exhibited : this kind of work makes a language 
plastic. The writing of a speech, given nothing but 
the subject and correlative historical facts, teaches 
how to find the ideas and sentiments in keeping with 
the particular circumstances or character, and forms 
an exercise in psychology. The professor, be it 
understood, ought to inspire his pupils with a love of 
truth, and with a wholesome contempt for declama- 
tion, and ought to bring to their notice as frequently 
as possible the real speeches given in history.^ For 
French composition he must seek out subjects familiar 
to the student, into the treatment of which they will 
introduce their observations, sentiments, and impres- 
sions — in fact, themselves. Bersot objects to Latin 
speeches, that in order to succeed in them the pupil 
has first to think with great effort in French, and 
afterwards translate his thoughts with great effort 
into^ Latin ; in this extreme labour of thought and 
writing the pupil s thought and its expression are 

^ Vide Bersot, QjMstions d Knseignement, 


both wide of the mark. The answer is — that every 
work of art and ^tyle demands effort and repeated 
trial ; that is what makes it useful. The Latin of the 
pupils, says another critic, is a collection of expres- 
sions and turns which besiege their memory and beat 
at the doors of the mind to gain admittance ; these 
expressions and turns are from all authors and from 
all periods promiscuously; the pupils mark as prefer- 
able what has struck them as being most remote from 
usage, so that the uniform flow of the language 
escapes them. What does it matter? We do not 
learn Latin to talk Latin, nor to write the pure Latin 
of a single epoch : that is mere gymnastics. We 
must not dwell so much upon the result as upon the 
effort of arrangement, composition, and expression. 
Latin verses are better still ; they are an introduction 
— imperfect, no doubt, but nevertheless very useful — 
to the language of poetry, its association of images, 
its harmony, and its rhythm. Written translations 
are a capital exercise in logic and style. Narratives 
are excellent, provided, as has been said, “ that the 
narratives of history are historical, and that in other 
subjects the student is not expected to write upon a 
topic of which he is ignorant” Scientific, philo- 
sophical, moral, and literary dissertations accustom 
the pupil to reason and to form a judgment ; literary 
analysis accustom him to seize the essential charac- 
teristics of a work. These exercises, different in kind 
and wisely alternated, strengthen the mind and make 
it flexible. But above all, verses — Latin verses — are 
pre-eminently the literary exercise; a student who 
has never written a Latin verse is not really a man 
of letters. Latin verse develops the poetic instinct, 
without persuading the student that he is a budding 



poet, without intoxicating him beforehand with the 
triumph of the salon. 

No exercise can therefore replace either verses, 
speeches, narratives, or dissertations in literary educa- 
tion. Their invention is sometimes ascribed to the 
Jesuits as a crime, sometimes as an honour. But, in 
fact, poetry and eloquence have always been the basis 
of literary teaching. It was so in India, Egypt, 
Greece, and Rome ; we followed the same course our- 
selves until recent days. M. Maneuvrier says, with 
considerable justice, that there is essentially an orator 
and poet within each of us ; this poet or this orator 
emerges at a given moment to express our emotions, 
passions, or ambitions. Literary culture addresses itself 
to these intimate forms of our being, to these essential 
elements of our humanity; and that is why it is called 
the supreme interest of education. Now, how can we 
best introduce the young to poetry and eloquence? 
Will it be enough to narrate history to them ? Will 
it be enough to make them read? Is a sculptor 
formed by “ listening to tales of Michael Angelo, or a 
painter by being shown ‘Moses and the Holy Family’?” 
No! Composition, construction of verses — even of 

bad verses, — of speeches — even of bad speeches, of 

narratives, and of descriptions, are all necessary. By 
learning to set our ideas in order we acquire new 
ideas, the result of association and suggestion. 

No doubt we must not fall into the exclusive 
worship of form ; but there is a sure way of preventing 
that: introduce early into our classes moral, civic, 
aesthetic — in a word, philosophical — studies. If we 
add scientific instruction of an equally philosophical 
and even aesthetic character, which will display the 
noble and beautiful side of truth, we shall accustom 



the pupils to think and feel, and not to speak unless 
they have something to say. To unite, co-ordinate, 
and at the same time to simplify literary and 
scientific studies, a middle term is needed, viz., the 
study of moral and social science, of the philosophy 
of history, the philosophy of art, and the philosophy 
of science. Not only to the higher order of minds, 
but also to minds less cultured and incapable of 
initiative, is philosophy useful. This is not because 
an average mind cannot retain a certain number of 
precise details, — quite the contrary; but it is the 
main lines of connection between facts that escape 
them. Even a thorough scientific training in one 
fixed subject will not bring these main lines to view; 
just as little can literary training do this ; philo- 
sophical training alone, by widening the mind, will 
bring them home to the student 

II. History. 

History has been rightly called “a great cemetery.” 
The most learned historian is he who best knows the 
names of the dead, who has deciphered most epitaphs 
on human tombs. For the mind which makes of 
history its exclusive study, it may remain as barren 
as death itself. History derives its special value from 
its social and philosophical side. 

There is a continual tendency to give more pro- 
minence to history, as well as to the sciences, in the 
study of the classics. This is a mistake, and opposed 
to 'the opinion even of our best historians., When M. 
Fustel de Coulanges, in an inaugural lecture at the 
Sorbonne, took as his subject the origin and growth 


of Roman institutions, he devoted part of it to 
demolishing commonplaces which vaunt the great 
utility of history. “We shall study history,” he said, 
“purely for its own sake, and for the interest of 
which the knowledge of its development admits.” M. 
Fustel de Coulanges made light of the alleged fruits 
of experience which this subject is supposed to supply 
to statesmen and political leaders. “A statesman 
who is thoroughly familiar with the needs, ideas, and 
interests of his own times, will have no reason to 
covet any historical erudition whatever, though it be 
more complete and more profound than his own. His 
familiarity with the needs of his day will be of far 
more value to him than the much belauded lessons 
of history.” History, he continues, may even lead us 
astray, if we do not sufficiently realise the difference 
between the present and the past “ I by no means 
wish the world to be governed by historians,” says M. 
Lavisse. “ Between politics and history are essential 
differences, especially in this country, where there 
exists no historic force bequeathed by the past and 
having an influence which must be studied in order 
to control it The politician need not be a learned 
historian : it is enough if he knows the ideas, passions, 
and interests which underlie the opinions and acts of 
contemporary Franca It seems to me that a really 
good historian would be a poor statesman, because 
his veneration for the ruins of antiquity would prevent 
him from resigning himself to necessary sacrifices.” 
In fact, it would not do to entrust sanitary reforms in 
Paris to the Soci^t6 de Thistoire de Paris et de Tile 
de France; archaeologists are capable of feeling 
respect for a fever — if it lives in an old palace. How- 
ever, if history gives no precise notions which can be 



employed in this or that part of the art of govern- 
ment, does it not explain the qualities and defects of 
the French temperament, which on pain of death it is 
necessary to control? Does it not warn different 
forms of government of the dangers peculiar to them? 
Does it not teach patience, moderation, and trust in 
the work of time? And lastly, does it not teach us 
our relations with foreign countries ? 

The teaching of history and geography is carried 
on too much by passive methods ; it is a monologue 
from the master, an academical lecture followed by 
questions summing up the previous lesson ; the pupils 
take shorthand notes, and afterwards transcribe and 
learn part of them by heart It would be a good 
thing to teach pupils about documents and ancient 
remains; and how varying evidence is checked, 
criticised, and verified^ They ought to be conducted 

* It is extremely difficult to ima^ne how hard it is to get at historic 
truth, even in the case of recent events of which there have been 
numerous witnesses. M. d*Harcourt gives a curious instance of this 
difficulty— or rather quasi-impossibility — of recognising events as 
they really took place. He takes the report of Marshal MacMahon 
on the battle of Solferino. 

** It was on the day after the battle,’' says M. d’Harcourt, “ and we 
were still on the summit of the ridge where the battle came to an end. 
Lying or sitting in a very narrow space, we could none of .us do 
anything without the knowledge of the rest. The Marshal asked the 
general at the head of his staff to prepare the outlines of a report. The 
latter ordered two of his officers to draw up this document, and they 
immediately set to work. It seemed easy enough. The whole field of 
battle was in sight. All the staff-officers who had carried orders were 
there within a few yards. The very source of the most trustworthy 
and complete information was at hand. The officers therefore drew up 
their report with a full knowledge of their work ; but when it was 
handed to the head of the staff, he objected, and asserted that the affair 
had taken place quite differently,— the enemy was at that moment 
in front and not on the left,— the enemy had been hurled back by 
this corps and not by that,— a movement only mentioned cursorily 



on historical excursions, like those made by geologists 
and botanists : sites of battles, old streets, pictures 
and statues, cathedrals and town halls, manuscripts 
and old books in libraries — all these should be visited. 
The different pupils should each have a personal task 

had decided the day, etc. In short, the whole report had to be 
remodelled under the direction of the general. When the corrections 
were made, the report was handed to the Marshal j but scarcely had 
he perused it than he declared it incorrect from beginning to end.— 
* You are utterly wrong,* he cried ; ‘ the flanking movement took place 
much later ; I remember perfectly the orders I gave and why I gave 
them.* * But,’ expostulated the officer he was addressing, * you gave 
the orders to me, and I also think I remember them.* In short, the 
report already once corrected, was corrected again, until nothing was 
left of the original.** Now, to make a general report on a battle, all the 
reports bearing on diflferent details have to be cut down in one place, 
supplemented in another, and finally combined into one. Thus, 
continues the narrator of this episode, documents relative to an event 
only lasting a few hours, and taking place in the broad daylight, 
although apparently most authentic and written without any bias by 
men who had the best opportunity of knowing the facts — these 
documents can only inspire us, as far as details are concerned, with 
very moderate confidence. What then will be the case when the 
question is of political events, when intrigue will play its part, and the 
actors will be led by party passion to represent history in different 
aspects? From this difficulty of obtaining an exact knowledge of 
facts, M. d’Harcourt is led to the conclusion that no very solid basis 
is given to social science by history. In his opinion, individual 
experience—/.#., the knowledge of a very large number of facts, such 
as occur in the natural course of events, the knowledge acquired not by 
accounts or various readings, but by personal observation, first hand, 
after a ripe age and experience in public affairs— constitutes the safest 
naeans of investigation in every study of human society, and in most 
historical studies. “ No book can replace experience. Experience is 
best calculated to throw light upon the affairs of men ; it enables us to 
penetrate their motives much more surely than history alone, which is 
zlways uncertain in itself, always obscure to the man who has had no 
practice in public affairs*' We cannot fail to recognise that there is 
much truth in these words.— For some extremely valuable and sug- 
gestive remarks on this point see John Morley’s Miscellanies, vol. iii , 
PP‘ 15-25. (Tr.) 



allotted to him ; they should be taught to form their 
own opinions, not to be credulous, and not to make 
up their minds too rapidly. 

III. Science. 

Outside the sum total of the narrow and positive 
science indispensable in practical life all restricted 
scientific instruction is sterile. It may be vague, but 
at least let it be broad, for general views, and the 
perspective in which science displays objects, are 
worth far more than the actual knowledge of the 
things themselves ; the facts acquired are of far less 
value than the inductions drawn. In a word, even 
the science of nature, if I may say so, is especially 
valuable from the humanities contained in it. 

Scientific instruction develops the reasoning power 
less than one might think, for it provides the mind 
with facts and prepared formulas ; it does not exer- 
cise the power of thinking for one’s self. It does not 
communicate that initiative which is the basis of all 
personal thought In addition, it scarcely affords 
any culture of the imagination which is especially 
exercised by aesthetic education. Philosophical 
training and a good literary training on proper lines 
alone develop the reasoning power. Mathematics, 
with their severity and their apparent precision, may 
teach the student to hide the weakness of reason 
under the force of ratiocination; they give simple 
formulas which are incapable of grasping reality, and 
destroy ‘‘ that spirit of finesse'' which is the common- 
sense of life. Mathematicians fancy that their 
formulas are infallible because they are drawn from 


mathematics, and they have a formula for every- 
thing ; everything is classed, ticketed, and in such 
a way as to preclude discussion; how can one 
dispute with a formula? Even in physical science 
the teaching excludes every possibility of doubting 
the facts recognised and registered by science. It is 
true that in certain cases the master, if he has the 
necessaiy apparatus, can give, before the eyes of his 
pupils, a practical demonstration of the truths he 
teaches. But this demonstration is a mere illustra- 
tion ” which can in no way develop the mechanism 
of inductive reasoning. Herbart was right when 
he said that science teaching in the colleges will 
always eminently favour the deductive faculty : for 
the contrary to take place the pupil ought to be able, 
as in grammatical and literary exercises, to incessantly 
verify and check any law that is not self-evident, or 
is not imposed upon the mind with irresistible force. 
We are allowed to question the correctness of an 
application of grammatical rules or of an expression ; 
the pupil may without any drawback criticise it, take 
it as doubtful, or hesitate before applying the rule; but 
we cannot imagine ourselves “questioning the accuracy 
of a table of logarithms, or of the laws of gravity.” 

In scientific teaching the essential point is the 
method; in these days it is passive, and very often ends 
in merely mechanical work, in editing — the work of the 
drudge and the copyist : active methods must be sub- 
stituted for passive. Teach a little science, but teach 
it scientifically — ^that is to say, by reconstructing the 
science and making the student reconstruct it The 
students ought, each in his turn, to handle the appar- 
atus and make experiments ; the pupils ought to care- 
fully keep the apparatus, and make collections of plants 


and minerals — to go botanising.^ We do not present 
with sufficient force the connection between theory 
and practice; we do not give the pupils habits of 
accuracy and observation. We ought to commence 
with the study of physical and natural science, with- 
out forgetting that knowledge which is of daily use 
through life, such as hygiene, with the notions of 
physiology upon which it is based. “ There is scarcely 
anybody,” says Spencer, “ to whom you put the ques- 
tion, who has not in the course of his life brought 
upon himself illnesses which a little information would 
have saved him from. Here is a case of heart dis- 
ease consequent on a rheumatic fever that followed 
reckless exposure. . , . Yesterday it was one whose 
long-enduring lameness was brought on by continu- 
ing, spite of the pain, to use a knee after it had been 
slightly injured. And to-day we are told of another 
who has had to lie by for years, because he did not 
know that the palpitation he suffered under resulted 
from overtaxed brain. Now we hear of an irremedi- 
able injury which followed some silly feat of strength; 
and again, of a constitution that has never recovered 
from the effects of excessive work needlessly under- 
taken. . • . Is it not clear that the physical sins — 
partly our forefathers’ and partly our own — which 
produce this ill-health . . . make life a failure and a 
burden instead of a benefaction and a pleasure ? ” ® 

IV. Technical Instruction- 

The new technical instruction undertaken by the 
lyceum, wrote Bersot, is so far mischievous that the 

^ Vide M. Maneuvrier and M. Blanchard on this subject. 

^ Spencer, Education^ p. 15, 


other pupils despise it, and " mark their contempt by 
the name they give it . . . they are so convinced of 
their own superiority that they convince even those 
upon whom they heap their contempt. . . . The pre- 
judice is so strong that students do not enter for these 
professional courses, but fall into them.” In my opinion 
there is a very just feeling in this contempt — the 
sense of the danger which is now becoming more and 
more menacing to classical education. M. Frary 
himself recognises that the “ experiment has failed.” 
If we persist in this course we shall eventually dis- 
organise classical education by trying to organise the 
other. Then we shall see unfolded the whole logic of 
consequences. We shall no longer consider in instruc- 
tion anything except what will or will not be useful to 
the future profession. Then Latin and Greek will be 
useless. Most parents will say, What is the use of them ? 
And this will suit the idleness of the children very well. 
Presently the whole of France will be full of short- 
sighted utilitarians, and classics will have had their 
day. The ilite^ whom they profess to form by means 
of a classical training, losing the instruction common 
to pupils receiving technical training, will hardly exist 
at all, or will be reduced to the infinitely small. 

Besides, all precocious specialisation is dangerous. 
A given individual is never one, but several individuals; 
some children first resemble their father, then their 
mother, and thus successively represent a series of 
types distinct both morally and physically. We 
cannot therefore flatter ourselves that we can lay 
hold of the man in his final aspect either in the child 
or even in the youth; we can therefore never fore- 
see all the possibilities in a character, all the apti- 
tudes which it will develop. Hence the danger of 



all education which prejudges too hastily the 
tendencies of the child. The only object of tech- 
nical instruction, for instance, should be to awaken 
aptitudes, and never to respond to aptitudes supposed 
to exist Without this it is a mutilation from which 
a whole life may suffer. Once again, it is not a fixed 
and crystallised individual that the educator has to 
deal with; it is the shifting series of individuals, a 
family in the moral sense of the word as well as in 
the sense in which it is taken in natural history. A 
specialist is very often utopian ; his sight is distorted 
by the narrowness of his horizon. All precocious 
specialisation is a disequilibration. To make a soldier, 
an engineer, or a musician, is not necessarily to turn 
out a man in the full possession of all his faculties. 
Moreover, we must take into account the failures, the 
rejection of candidates at entrance examinations^ etc. 
Out of the thousands of candidates for the Ecole 
Polytechnique, for instance, only 300 are admitted; 
now if a good polytechnician is not necessarily an 
accomplished man, what will a polytechnician who 
has failed be ? 

V. Competition and Examinations, 

We are familiar with the drawbacks of competition, 
and especially of those examinations with long pro- 
grammes, causes of expenditure which can be with 
difficulty recuperated, and further, which can only set 
in active motion one special organ of the brain, the 
memory; examinations do not even strengthen that 
organ, they exhaust it The only good thing in com- 
petition is the emulation it develops ; but this emulation 


only acquires its tension or becomes discharged with 
a view to a frequently fictitious result — ^superiority 
for a single day on one particular point Very 
often emulation stops there, and thinks the rank it 
has gained fixed and final Competition gives a 
verdict which checks the winners by giving them an 
exaggerated consciousness of their value, the losers 
by discouraging them. It is emulation discontinuous 
and disorganised, instead of being, as it ought to be, 
a mode of organising emulation. It may be said that 
it is not a bad thing that men should from time to 
time come to the top, but it is a bad thing that men 
should ever be at the bottom. The Bachelor’s 
degree ought to be nothing but the last of the pass 
examinations, as it was once happily defined, the 
pass examination from the college to the “ Faculty.” 
Custom has made something else of it ; too often 
success is attained by artificial and hasty means of 
preparation. Troubles of every kind are the natural 
result; numbers of students willingly flatter them- 
selves that it will be possible to make up in rhetoric 
and philosophy for the time lost or wasted since they 
left the sixth. A number of masters are led to con- 
sider the requirements of the examination as guiding 
their teaching, of which they thus diminish the 
liberty, the elevation, and the general and generous 
scope. Certain eager spirits can see only one hope 
of safety — ^the extinction of the bacccdauriat. They 
wish to replace it by special entrance examinations 
to the great schools, Faculties, and government offices. 
This solution of the problem would only accelerate 
the ruin of classical education. The scholars would 
cease to be interested in anything but the particular 
subjects required at the entrance to the different 



professions. The unity of secondary education would 
be broken, the college would be transformed into 
a confused group of preparatory schools in which 
primary knowledge would be the only connecting 
link. We must clearly combine the Bachelor^s 
degree with a pass examination, as in Germany. 

VI. Higher Education, 

According to the theory adopted in Germany, the 
technical schools only take up one part of knowledge, 
whereas the universities have as their object the 
bringing together of all those parts and making a 
synthesis of them. The schools take up applied 
science; the universities aspire to pure science; the 
schools turn out the workmen who apply discoveries; 
the universities train the inventors who make the 
discoveries. Schools are the realm of action, univer- 
sities are the realm of light ” said P^re Didon in his 
book on the Germans. In an age when the limits of 
knowledge are ever receding, an isolated mind would 
despair, unaided, of discovering the unity of science; 
the universities, a body of men associated for this 
purpose, make this unity visible to every eye. " As 
the convolutions of the brain fold upon each other 
and eventually form the organ of thought, the different 
sciences ought to be combined into one single body 
called the Faculties, which are united in the univer- 
sities, to form the great organ of collective and 
national science.” 

Of this ideal the German universities are beginning 
to lose sight Every university, says Deputy Lasker, 
is dismembered by its division into special schools, 


even the special subjects themselves are parcelled out 
“The student becomes a scholar, and as obligatory 
lessons are abolished he silently acquiesces with his 
professor on the scanty syllabus of general subjects 
indispensable in examinations. He does not want to 
be dragged in several different directions at once, and 
afraid of discursive study in work of which the subject 
matter is ever increasing, he narrowly confines himself 
to a course which will be directly practical. Whoever 
does no natural science, leaves the university without 
the slightest idea of the most important discoveries 
in Nature. The elementary principles of political 
economy, of literature, of history, are amazingly 
unfamiliar to most of those whose special work has 
not embraced them. The class-rooms are side by 
side ; the institutions belong to one great whole ; the 
professors are still connected by the Faculties, the 
Senate ; the general staff by the statutes and external 
organisation ; but the intellectual bond is wanting ; 
personal relations are relaxed, and the students are as 
separate as if the university were already divided into 
a system of special schools — each entirely distinct 
from the rest.” ^ Another writer, who, though anony- 
mous, is known to be a professor at one of the great 
German universities, has confirmed Lasker’s state- 
ment According to him, the professorial lectures no 
longer bring together different classes of students; 
each Faculty has its distinct audience. Go into a 
lecture-room where the “gentleman” is much in 
evidence, and you are in' the Faculty of Law. In 
another room you see “ a queer mixture of sheep’s 
heads, with here and there a face showing character,” 
— ^you are among the theologians. In a third, nearly 
^ Deutsche Ruttdschau^ 1874. 



every one wears spectacles ; the cut of the hair varies 
between being brushed far back like a sheep’s, or 
curled & la Raphael ; here is no ambition to lead the 
fashion ; but the audience is unfortunate enough to 
present an almost complete collection of the fashions 
of the last fifteen years. Hats brown with wear, 
rebellious shirt-fronts and cravats, great ears, high 
cheek-bones, long elbows. There are exceptions, but 
they are rare. These men are attending courses on 
philology, history, mathematics, or the natural sciences. 
They belong to the. Faculty of Philosophy, which 
corresponds to our two Faculties of Science and Litera- 
ture ; these students are future teachers in the gym- 
nasiums. Each one lives apart from his fellows ; even 
this Faculty is divided and sub-divided ; philologists 
do not study literature, history students do not take up 
philology; and i fortiori literary and scientific men 
are entirely separated from each other. Thus the 
university, which, as its name indicates, should tend 
to the universality of knowledge, tends to exclusive 

In France, until lately, our Faculties had no regular 
pupils. Now each has its own clientkle. Hence the 
quarrel about open or closed lectures which divides 
the teaching staff. Some pronounce in favour of 
courses open to the general public ; others propose to 
reserve lectures for students alone. The two things 
are not irreconcilable — nay, they have been recon- 
ciled. Public teaching “ invites the whole nation, and 
even foreigners, to the study of science and literature 
— a study ever rejuvenated and renewed by the influ- 
ence of the world of intellect A public course of 
lectures is an intellectual school with its doors thrown 



In the German universities the professor works 
surrounded by pupils and disciples. Several times a 
week he gathers them together to listen to his lessons, 
which he can multiply without any effort, because 
they are really only familiar conversations on the 
science which is his forte ; he widens or contracts his 
syllabus, and is not worried by any programme but 
the interest of the audience. This frequent, often 
daily contact of master and pupils, in the opinion of 
M. Br6al, leads to the rapid attainment of great 
results. At first this system was introduced into the 
Ecole pratique de hautes itudes ; it has now spread 
into most of our Faculties. Now it has only to be 
generalised by combining public courses with private 
meetings, the special subject of which the professor 
may be at liberty to decide, and of which he may 
also have the power to fix the number and duration. 
The Faculty of Literature in Paris has not changed 
its old habits ; it has proceeded by addition,” not 
feeling compelled to suppress anything. Once it had 
nothing but an audience, or rather it did not recognise 
the “legal existence” of the hon& fide students, lost in 
the crowd ; now it has organised those students into 
a regular body. The credit set down in the budget 
to meet the expenses of scholarships “ de licence et 
d’agr^gation ” has ensured the existence and develop- 
ment of an institution which will do good service, 
even if it only amounts to a higher standard in the 
recruits of the teaching staff of the country. But, 
says M. Br^al, unfortunately these audiences are not 
yet students; they are always candidates. “They 
are called students ; they have a restless spirit, a want 
of mental freedom, a longing to finish and be off” 
While in other countries the time spent at the 



university is the happiest of one’s life, while that life is 
willingly prolonged and entered upon with joy, " our 
scholars in for licentiate or fellowship examinations 
have but one idea — to pass their examination as 
quickly as possible.” Thus the Faculties become 
merely combinations of special schools. 

Again, in addition to the students who form the 
nucleus of the whole body, we must leave room for 
young people who have joined of their own accord. 
A large number of young people do not know how to 
employ their leisure time when they leave the lyceum. 

" He will study the law,” says a father, speaking of 
his son, “ and then we shall see ! ” That is how many 
young men take up law, says M. Lavisse, from 
inability to do anything else, although they are not 
destined for a legal career, and although a scientific 
or literary training would have been much more 
useful to them. “Every one knows a number of 
farmers, manufacturers, merchants, and idlers, who 
have in their youth crowded, if not the lecture-rooms, 
at any rate the registered lists of the Faculty of Law, 
whose proper place would have been in the labora- 
tories or lecture-rooms of the Sorbonne. There they 
would have received not merely notions of more 
practical utility in after life, but that general culture 
which is only too rare in this country.” 

Our classification of the Faculties is artificial ; to 
divide them into groups with distinct lines of demar- 
cation .is harmful to science. In literature and 
science we must return to the old custom still obtain- 
ing in most foreign universities; we must combine 
the Faculties, at present separated, into one F acuity of 
Arts, as it used to be called, or into a Faculty of 
JPhilosopky, as it is termed by the Germans. The 

2S6 education and heredity. 

separation of the Faculties first took place in the 
Napoleonic university ; it seriously injured nearly all 
teaching, and produced a kind of anarchy. 

VII. TJie Great Schools. 

The great schools are both necessary and dangerous. 
At the Ecole Polytechnique they go in for nothing 
but pure science ; the lectures form a great physico- 
mathematical encyclopaedia; the instruction given is 
general instruction, expected to develop the scientific 
spirit, and to furnish each individual with the tools 
which will be most useful to him in his own work. 
In a word, the school produces neither engineers nor 
officers ; its rdle is at once higher and more restricted 
than that of its neighbours ; it simply has to prepare 
boys for the special training schools for engineers 
and officers. Technical instruction is given in these 
fecial schools, in the Ecole de Fontainebleau, in the 
Ecole du g^nie Maritime, etc., a two years’ course ; in 
the schools “des mines, ponts, et chauss(^cs,” a three 
years’ course. 

Unfortunately the polytechnicians are overworked 
before and during their stay at the school. It is a 
good thing to make a selection, but this selection 
ought not to end in a physical extermination. M. 
Lagneau tells us that a remarkably large number of 
invalids and insane has been produced by the 
regime of the school. Further, in the competition 
chance comes into play as well as capacity. Once 
in the school, the students rai-ely keep their first 
order of merit; sometimes the lists are almost 
inverted. The requirements of the syllabus ever 

THE GRfeAt SCHOOL^. ^$7 

increase, and now they are so great that exhaustion 
must necessarily follow if a student passes. It is not, 
say MM. Cournot and Simon, that the school itself 
needs all this knowledge, but the examiner, finding 
choice* difficult, increases the play of chance to lessen 
his own trouble. If there are only twenty questions, 
everybody will try them ; if there are two hundred, 
the best pupil will be equal to one hundred and fifty. 
It is certainly awkward for him if he comes on any- 
thing he does not know, but the conscience of the 
judge is free from blame. So little by little the 
examiners get the habit of setting the most “ catch- 
ing” questions, which are by no means the most 

The first of the harmful results of this is the 
invention of the “ art of preparing for examinations,” 
which takes the place of the art of teaching science.” 
While the examiner tortures the candidate and sets 
him enigmas in the form of questions, he is himself 
examined, studied, and seen through, by the pre- 
paratory teachers who form his audience. His wiles 
are discovered, his formulas noted down, his whims 
anticipated. If the same individual is always 
examiner, the success of the coach is certain. The 
coach no longer teaches science, but the art of answer- 
ing a special person. Thus students are sent to the 
school that obtains inost passes. They commence 
all the subjects very early, and go up before they are 
ready, St) as to get accustomed to the examination. 
As M. Jules Simon says, “A boy is nearly certain 
to get into the ficole Polytechnique by this triple 
receipt: he must not be decidedly stupid, he must 
not fall ill, he must not be very unlucky.” The 
university has professors, not coaches ; but if it 



refuses to adapt itself to this system of training, it 
will lose the student preparing for State schools ; it is 
therefore imperatively obliged to follow the example 
of the rest. M. Cournot points out the singular con- 
tradiction that ensues : — ‘‘The State pays coaches to 
put examiners on the wrong scent as to the relative 
worth of the examinees, and pays examiners to baiHie 
the craft of the ‘crammer.’” It is said by some 
that competition is a good thing, that it is a spur to 
each of the competitors, and obliges each to do his 
best. M, Simon retorts that this is not quite so 
certain as they would like to make out, especially as 
far as teaching is concerned. As far as “cramming” 
is concerned it is absolutely false; for there is no 
contest as to who will turn out the best pupils, but as 
to who will get the most candidates through. Here 
the university submits to a regime for which it is not 
responsible. Unfortunately the Ecole Poly technique, 
like the ^^cole de Saint-Cyr, is under the control of 
the War Minister, who is not, as a rule, an authority 
in matters of instruction. All parents will bless the 
advent of one reform — the increasing the maximum 
age by two or three years. The Minister of War 
refuses it now because he refused it before. We can 
understand a rigid limit of age in the navy, because 
of the importance of becoming early accustomed to 
the sea ; nevertheless, the young people who become 
first-class students when they leave the 6cole Poly- 
technique are not necessarily bad sailors in* conse- 
quence. But why should they not enter other 
professions two or three years later? No student 
under twenty-one is received in the Nicole Poly- 
technique unless he has had two years’ effective 
military service ; and in the latter case he is allowed 



to enter if no more than twenty-five on July ist of 
the year of the examination. Now no harm can 
accrue to the Nicole Polytechnique from receiving 
students at that age ; and therefore it is a mistake to 
fix twenty as the limit of age, to the detriment alike 
of the work and the health of the students.^ These 
two or three years would not be wasted, if they gave 
time for a solid instead of a hasty preparation. " The 
State schools would gain by it ; and it would be an 
immense benefit to our colleges, for we should be free 
to study for the sake of study. Instead of, as at 
present, students for the civil professions going 
through the same mill as candidates for the State 
schools, both would escape methods of cramming and 
forcing, and would be instructed and brought up like 
men.^’® The Ecole Poly technique wants a picked set 
of boys for that purpose it eliminates as many as it 
can, but under the guise of an elaborate syllabus, by a 
series of questions, problems, and, as the boys call 
them, ‘‘colles.^’^ It would be far better to choose this 
ilitCy not from those who have overloaded their 
memories, but from those who have most talent, and 
who are not high-minded. The simplest remedy is 
for the 6cole Pol 5 rtechnique to admit only bacca- 
lauriats is lettres^ and then to draw up its own 
scientific programme of subjects for examination. 

^ Vide Jules Simon, Riforme de V Enseignement^ p, 361. 

* Ibid. ® “Stumpers” (?). (Tr.) 



The whole question of the education of women 
seems to be governed by the following principles ; — 
1st Woman is physiologically weaker than man; she 
has but a small reserve of energy to make up for the 
considerable expenditure entailed by brain-work carried 
beyond certain limits. 2nd. The generative function 
occupies a far more important place in the female than 
in the male organism. Now this function, according to 
all physiologists, is antagonistic to brain expenditure; 
the disequilibration produced in the woman by intel- 
lectual work will therefore be necessarily greater than 
in man. 3rd. The consequences to the race of this 
disequilibration are much more serious in the case of 
the woman than in the case of the man. The life 
of woman, generally sedentary and under more or 
less unhealthy conditions, gives no time for recupera- 
tion to a constitution exhausted by an irrational 
education, whereas in the case of man recuperation 
may take place ; on the other hand, the mother’s 
health is of much more importance to the child than 
the health of the father. The man’s expenditure in 
paternity is insignificant compared to the woman’s; 
the latter needs a considerable reserve of physical and 
moral energy during gestation, maternity, and after- 
wards during the early education of the child. The 
mothers of Bacon and Goethe, though both very 
remarkable women, could not have written either the 


Novum Organuin or Faust; but if they had ever so 
little weakened their generative powers by excessive 
intellectual expenditure, they would not have had a 
Bacon or a Goethe as a son. If during life the 
parents expend too much of the energy they have 
drawn from their environment, so much the less will 
be left for their children. Coleridge, with all the 
gravity in the world, observed: "The history of a 
man in the nine months before his birth would 
probably be more interesting, and would contain 
events of greater importance than any that may 
occur in after life.” 

High authorities are of opinion that the more 
refined a woman’s education becomes, the weaker her 
children will be. 

Spencer, in his Principles of Biology^ asserts that 
physical labour makes woman less fertile 5^ and adds 
that the same relative or absolute sterility is generally 
also the result of overtaxing the brains. " If we con- 
sider that the regimen of girls of the upper classes is 
much better than that of girls belonging to the poorer 
classes, while in most other respects their physical 
treatment is not worse, the deficiency of reproductive 
power among them may be reasonably attributed to 
the overtaxing of their brains — an overtaxing which 
produces a serious reaction on the physique. This 
diminution of reproductive power is not only shown 
by the greater frequency of absolute sterility, nor is it 
only shown in the earlier cessation of child-bearing, 
but it is also shown in the very frequent inability of 
such women to suckle their infants. In its full sense 

^ Spencer, however, says: “To prove much bodily labour renders 
women less prolific requires more evidence than is obtainable,”— Vol. 
ii. p. 484. (Tr.) 



the reproductive power means the power to bear a 
well-developed infant, and to supply that child with 
the natural food for the natural period. Most of the 
flat-chested girls who survive their high-pressure 
education are incompetent to do this. Were their 
fertility measured by the number of children they 
could rear without artificial aid they would prove 
relatively unfertile.”^ Dr. Hertel,® a Dane, has ascer- 
tained that in the higher schools in his country 
twenty-nine per cent of the boys and forty-one per 
cent of the girls are in a precarious state of health 
from over-work : anaemia, scrofula, and headache are 
the most prevalent scourges. Professor Bystroff, of 
St Petersburg, has collected information of the same 
purport From these and many similar facts it may 
be concluded that the excessive work entailed by 
competition and examinations in higher education, 
dangerous as it is to the race in the case of boys, is 
infinitely more so in the case of girls. Fatigue of 
this kind, repeated for several successive generations, 
would eventually absolutely unfit the woman for her 
duties as a mother. The danger of too scientific a 
form of instruction is much greater for girls; for, 
being more disposed to sedentary work than boys, 
they devote themselves entirely to mental work, and 
as a rule display more assiduity. Not merely intel- 
lectual work, but also close confinement, bad food, 
and insufficient exercise are equally responsible for 
these derangements of healtL To this must be 
added the evenings spent in soirhs among the upper 
classes, and in work of every kind by the poorer 

^ Principles of Biology, vol. ii. pp. 485, 486. (Tr.) 

® Overpressure in High Schools in Denmark (Macmillan & Co.). 
Dr. Hertel adds chorea to anaemia, etc. (Tr.) 


classes. Mr. Clark, an American, concludes that if 
this goes on for half a century it needs no prophet to 
predict, from the laws of heredity, “ that the mothers 
of our future generations will have to be brought 
from beyond the Atlantic.” By heredity, therefore, a 
kind of retrograde selection is produced, which is 
disastrous in its consequences ; for the young girls of 
the educated classes, who might fairly be expected to 
raise the level of future generations, are either quite 
incapable of becoming mothers, or bring into the 
world puny beings, and thus leave to less cultivated 
but more robust women the care of perpetuating the 
human race. 

“ Mammas anxious to make their daughters attrac- 
tive could scarcely choose a course more fatal than"" 
this, which sacrifices the body to the mind. Either 
they disregard the tastes of the opposite sex, or else 
their conception of those tastes is erroneous. Men 
care little for erudition in woman ; but very much for 
physical beauty, good nature, and sound sense. What 
man ever fell in love with a woman because she 
understood Italian? Where is the Edwin who was 
brought to Angelina’s feet by her German ? But rosy 
cheeks and laughing eyes are great attractions. . . . 
The liveliness and good humour that overflowing 
health produces go a great way towards establish- 
ing attachments. Every one knows cases where bodily 
perfections, in the absence of all other recommenda- 
tions, •have incited a passion that carried all before it ; 
but scarcely any one can point to a case where intel- 
lectual requirements, apart from moral or physical 
attributes, have aroused such a feeling. . . . Out of 
the many elements uniting in varying proportions to 
produce in a man’s breast the complex emotion we 



call love, the strongest are those produced by physical 
attractions ; the next in order of strength are those 
produced by moral attractions ; the weakest are those 
produced by intellectual attractions ; and even these 
are dependent less on acquired knowledge than on 
natural faculty — quickness, wit, insight If any think 
this assertion a derogatory one, and inveigh against 
the masculine character for being thus swayed, we 
reply that they little know what they say. . . . One 
of Nature’s ends, or rather her supreme end, is the 
welfare of posterity ; further, that in so far as posterity 
are concerned, a cultivated intelligence based on a bad 
physiqm is of little worth, since its descendants will die 
out in a generation or two ; and conversely, that a 
good physique^ however poor the accompanying mental 
endowments, is worth preserving, because through 
future generations the mental endowments may be 
indefinitely developed ; we perceive how important is 
the balance of instincts. . . , But, advantage apart, 
the instincts being thus balanced, it is folly to persist 
in a system which undermines .a girl’s constitution 
that it may load her memory,” ^ 

Does it follow that woman should not be educated ? 
So far from that being so, we shall even assert that she 
ought to be educated as far as possible within the 
limits of strength at her disposal. But instruction 
is one thing, and intellectual waste another. The 
problem in all education, and especially in the educa- 
tion of women, is to communicate the maximum of 
necessary and ornamental knowledge with the mini- 
mum waste of cerebral power in the child. Woman 
has in domestic life a rdle to play which she can never 
shirk ; she has to morally and physically educate her 
^ Spencer, Edncation^ pp. 187, 188. 


children. It is for this function we have to give 
her the best preparation. Practical pedagogy, with 
domestic hygiene, is almost the only knowledge 
necessary to woman, and it is literally the only 
training she does not get. Moreover, pedagogy, 
being the art of teaching, implies ipso facto the 
knowledge of subjects to be taught; and if it is 
further admitted that, to give an accurate idea of 
things, her knowledge of them must be thorough, the 
way is at once opened wide to the activity and intel- 
lectual expansion of young girls. 

Another class of knowledge corresponds to the rbh 
of woman, not in the family, but in society. Woman 
represents in human psychology the being in whom 
reside all the most energetic and powerful sentiments 
— pity, affection, “ altruism,” devotion ; she ought to 
be the embodiment of tenderness, the sister of mercy 
of mankind. To woman politics would be barren 
and unpractical ; but philanthropy is quite within her 
reach. Now the philanthropy of the day is a science 
closely bound up with the essential parts of political 
economy. It is the science which is the basis of all 
benevolent institutions ; it is the science teaching us 
the direction in which we must proceed to assuage 
the evils of humanity, to alleviate in some degree the 
misery that seems eternal. By the pathway of philan- 
thropy woman must approach political economy. 

On the mother in particular rests the task of 
developing the heart. Maternal religion is the most 
inoffensive and most useful of religions. The tender 
reverence of the child is ‘an act of piety. In the 
evening let the child kneel down ; examine its con- 
science (a minute is quite long enough) : “ I am 
ashamed of my child ; I want to be proud of you 



to-morrow.” After correction the mother should be 
more pained at having inflicted than the child at 
having undergone the punishment The mother’s 
great art is to condense all morality into filial love, 
which is necessarily its first form. The fear of giving 
pain to its mother is the first, and for a long time the 
only remorse felt by the child ; this naive remorse 
must be refined by the mother, made as deep as love 
itself, and the loftiest sentiments must enter into this 
formula. The mother’s heart is the child’s conscience; 
that heart should therefore be the human conscience 
in miniature. 

In the education of woman we have to conciliate 
two opposing principles. On the one hand, having 
at her disposal less strength than man, woman cannot 
restore her energy after an equal expenditure of 
mental work ; on the other hand, being destined to 
be man’s companion and the educator of his children, 
she ought not to be a stranger to any of his occupa- 
tions or sentiments. 

It is only because intellectual labour is more and 
more imposed on young men that it is also imposed in 
the same way on young girls. To wish to suppress it 
almost totally in the case of the latter, for fear of check- 
ing her physical development, and with the object of 
restoring to man, by means of his mother, the bodily 
strength lost by the mental culture of his father, is to 
dream an idle dream. The child inherits not only the 
good but the bad qualities of its father and motRer, and 
in many cases we should run the risk of adding to the 
delicate health of the father the mental lethargy of 
the uncultured mother. The mother who transmits 
to her child a robust constitution certainly gives him 
an inestimable gift, but if she knows how to develop 


his natural good health, and how to bring intellect, 
energy, and will into existence from the vital powers 
of the child, her gift is. doubled in value. Now this 
second maternity — a maternity of the heart and mind 
— is more difficult to prepare for than the first ; and 
therefore it ought to occupy the attention of the 
educator at least in an equal degree. Before thinking 
of the future sons of a little girl, it is but rational to 
think about the girl herself, and that from every side, 
from a triple point of view — intellectual, moral, and 
physical. If we dance faster than the violins we 
lose time,” says the popular proverb ; if we look too 
far ahead we may imagine what we shall never see. 
Besides, let those who think of nothing but the roses 
in a girl’s cheeks remember that it is imperatively 
necessary, at least in the leisured classes, to open a field 
of activity wide enough for the intellect of a young 
girl — ^that intellect which nature has not refused her, 
and which will be turned to account one way or other, 
if it be only in the thousand trivialities and frivolities 
of which a worldly life consists. Now we become as 
exhausted, and we grow pale as much and even more 
if our life is idle, as if we led a serious and reflective 
existence. Further, the widening of the intellect cannot 
but give a point of support and a fresh impetus to the 
development of moral qualities which are more in 
evidence than we imagine beneath the freshness of 
a girl of eighteen. It is mere folly to suppose that 
an eduJated man will be content for long with a rosy- 
cheeked companion ; with familiarity the brilliancy of 
the complexion loses its charm ; but, on the other 
hand, moral qualities are always welcome; the cul- 
tivated mind insensibly becomes the daily companion. 
Long ago it was said that woman’s true r6le scarcely 



begins till she is married.^ Let us no longer forget 
that many sons will resemble their mothers ; the 
moral and intellectual worth of the latter is not 
therefore without importance in the development of 
the child's character. From these considerations it 
follows that the real point is to reform and direct, not 
to check, the education of girls. We have subjected 
boys and girls alike to the rigime of extreme intel- 
lectual labour without troubling ourselves to repair 

^ What an excellent adviser,” says Stendhal, “ a man would find in 
his wife if she knew how to think I ” The ignorant are the enemies 
of the education of women.” “ The basest of men, if he be only twenty 
and have ruddy cheeks, is dangerous to a woman who knows nothing, 
for she has nothing but instinct to guide her ; on a woman whose mind 
has been cultivated he has no more effect than a handsomfe lackey.” 
“Comparatively often a pretty young girl has a bad character, and 
turns out to be lazy. She soon becomes aware that her face gives her 
rights and privileges in the eyes of men, and that it is useless for her to 
attempt to acquire other qualities than the beauty she is so fortunate as 
to possess.” “The desire to please places modesty, delicacy, and 
every feminine grace for ever beyond the disturbing influence of any 
possible education. It is as if we were afraid of teaching a bird not to 
sing in the spring.” “ Womanly graces are not due to ignorance; take, 
for example, the worthy village tradesmen's wives, or in England the 
wives of the wealthy merchants.” “ Most men have one period in their 
lives when they can do great things: nothing then seems to them im- 
possible, The ignorance of women loses this magnificent chance for 
humanity. Love at the most gives a man a good mount, and makes 
him choose a better tailor.” “All early experience must necessarily 
contradict the truth. Enlighten a young girl’s mind, form her char- 
acter, give her, in fact, a good education in the true sense of the word ; 
sooner or later she is aware of her superiority to the rest of her sex, and 
becomes a pedant — the most disagreeable and degraded^erson in 
the world. Rather than spend a lifetime with her, there is not one of 
us who would not prefer a servant to a learned woman. Plant a young 
tree in the centre of a thick forest, where its neighbours deprive it of 
light and air; its leaves will become sickly, it will assume a lanky, 
ridiculous, and unnatural appearance. A whole forest must be planted 
at one and the same time. What woman would be conceited because 
she knows how to read ? ” 


the expenditure of strength involved in such con- 
tinuous effort: this is tantamount to embarking for 
far-off seas without providing for any emergency. 
Bad hygiene is prevalent nearly everywhere, but 
among the middle classes, precisely where girls have 
to work most earnestly (for it is a matter of bread- 
winning with them), they are ignorant of the very 
elements. Hence the systematic exhaustion of boys 
and girls who have to provide for the twofold develop- 
ment of mind and body. Now the remedy is simple. 
If rules are presented to a woman as absolute, no 
one is stricter in their observance. Teach hygiene 
just as you teach housekeeping, and you will see 
woman as sternly opposed to any breach of the laws 
of health as to the presence of dust on her ftirniture. 
To give little girls every possible opportunity of 
regaining on the one hand what they lose on the 
other — ^good food, varied open-air exercise, plenty of 
sleep — will be in itself an enormous benefit, for it 
is a natural law that in healthy individuals all expen- 
diture of energy has only to be replaced. The 
moralising influence of examinations, for boys and 
girls alike, in our present organisation of instruction, 
consists in the assigning of a definite object to the 
work of the young, and in accustoming them to effort, 
and to continuous effort; they must display power 
of will and perseverance, and that in itself constitutes 
superiority in all who are capable of it. Only it must 
be understood that the total result leaves much to be 
desired, if numbers of our young folk, especially girls, 
sacrifice the flower of their strength to obtain generally 
useless certificates. 

If we are right at all in protesting against over- 
pressure, it is certainly here where we have to 


deal with young girls who have little strength to spare. 
The protest must be raised against all knowledge not 
of general utility. Besides, nothing is so fatiguing 
as the irrational or the fastidious, for the mind ceases 
to feel interest in it; and when no curiosity is felt 
effort alone remains, thus doubling the sense of 
tedium. A young girl, whose sphere in life is not 
determined beforehand, ought to acquire a general 
view of the main lines of human knowledge, 
and ought not to be limited to an arduous, and 
necessarily restricted, erudition. The object of her 
education is to make no subject unfamiliar to her, 
so that as occasion arises she may apply her education 
to the given object For the young girl knows even 
less than the young man in what direction life will 
carry her. A woman may be called upon to help 
her husband in his work, to watch over the studies 
of her sons, — at any rate in their early stages, — ^to 
educate her daughters : in addition we must reckon 
with the chances of life, and she may even have to 
bring up her young family by her own exertions. 
But it should be clearly understood that we have 
not to teach her everything, but to fit her to learn 
everything, by giving her a taste for study and an 
interest in every subject 

Similar emotional motives, says M. Rochard, urge 
children of both sexes to excessive intellectual 
work. Young men have diplomas to win, they have 
in view the laurels of the great competitions, or 
admission into a State school. Girls have their 
teaching certificate, and admission into the normal 
schools. The development of primary instruction 
during the last few years has created an attractive 
career, especially in the large towns. Primary 

the education oe girls and heredity. 271 

instruction affords to young girls a means of raising 
themselves above their condition in life, of leaving the 
condition of inferiority in which their family happens 
to be, of gratifying the taste for pleasure that every- 
thing contributes to develop in them, and which we 
seem to make it our business to over-excite.” To 
attain this end, there are no efforts or sacrifices which 
they will not gladly make. They abandon household 
cares, and devote themselves with increasing ardour to 
studies which only exhaust them, and very often end 
in delusion. From the attractions it offers, the pro- 
fession of teaching is so overcrowded that it is nothing 
but a decoy. On January ist, 1887, there were in 
France 12,741 young girls looking forward to this 
career ; 4,714 out of this number — 2.^., nearly a third 
— were from the Department of the Seine. Now in 
Paris, in 1887, there were only sixty vacancies, of 
which twenty-five were allotted in advance to pupils 
leaving the Ecole normale. The rest had to be divided 
among the assistants receiving a fixed salary, and they 
were not less than forty. From this we may form an 
opinion as to the fate which awaited the 8,567 young 
girls who were candidates for similar posts in the 
provinces. The ever-increasing number of applicants 
has forced the University to increase the difficulties. 
At every stage examinations have to be passed, and 
the curricula bristle more and more with subjects. 
The young girls who aspire to the Ecole normale lead 
the same life as the candidates for the technical 
schools. The same anguish, the same emotions, the 
same desperate efforts at the supreme moment of the 
struggle ; and they have less strength to bear it 
Four or five hundred girls, from 15 to 18 years old, 
present themselves every year for admission to the 



Ecole normale of the Department of the Seine, and there 
are only twenty-five vacancies. As the pupils in this 
case are boarders, and all expenses are defrayed, and 
as a situation in the primary schools of the depart- 
ment is guaranteed on leaving, we may imagine 
the eagerness displayed in the competition for 

In Paris, where the new laws are bearing their first 
fruit, the administration annually disposes of fifty 
places ; there are already three thousand applicants. 
What will become of the nine-tenths of these girls, 
whose future the State seemed to guarantee when it 
awarded them their certificates ? It must undertake 
to create posts for women everywhere where they can 
with advantage replace men, which is now of rather 
frequent occurrence. They must be awarded a larger 
share in primary and secondary instruction. Nothing 
stands in the way of their employment in post offices, 
telegraph offices, etc., except that it is contrary to 
custom. It is desirable that more employment should 
be found for women in industry or commerce. First, 
competition for government appointments would 
become less keen : we should not have to fear the yearly 
increase in numbers of these poor girls who, having 
worked in vain, are without resources, and who have 
become unclassed. Many a tear has been shed for 
the little work-girl in her garret The teacher 
without a situation and without hope is no less to be 
pitied, and must we not regret the new laws dealing 
with instruction of girls if the necessary consequence 
is that they ‘‘are taken from their own rank and 
made into governesses ” ? Instruction, no doubt, is an 
excellent thing when it prepares us for the work we 
have to do, but it ought not to give us a distaste for the 


only duties which fall to our lot and are within our 
reach. Education, which would be a mean^ of im- 
provement and progress if things were well managed, 
ought not, by swelling the numbers of the unclassed 
and discontented, to become a cause of moral corrup- 
tion and social disturbance. If the instruction so much 
complained of — of which we fear the evil effects — 
produce bad results, it is because it is not what it 
ought to be. Instruction should be of such a 
character as to usher and lead into real life, 
with better equipment and more skill, those whom 
its mission was to prepare for that life, instead of 
giving them a distaste for it, and making them seek 
to escape from it ; less refinement in the ideas is 
needed, less erudition in the memory, less history and 
literary theories ; more moral and aesthetic ideas, more 
manual training, more energy in the will, more practi- 
cal worldly wisdom, more talent for invention. 

The Berlin Gegenwart is of opinion that although 
the education of German girls has made immense 
progress, still it leaves much to be desired. “ They 
are taught far too many useless things, dates, names, 
and rules, which will be of no use to them later, while 
we neglect what is of incomparably greater import- 
ance — ^to form and develop the future mother.” We 
turn out ‘‘walking encyclopaedias,” and sometimes 
intellectual women, but never women really useful to 

Ther5 is only one remedy for this state of things — 
to suppress a good half of the subjects at present in 
the curriculum, and to substitute for them subjects of 
really fundamental importance. 

Orie of the prejudices, now become classical, is 
to assume that education is rigidly bounded by a 



fixed end or limit, and that it ends in an examination, 
beyond which the educator has nothing to desire, 
beyond which the pupil has no further ambition. 
This difficulty is far more apparent in the case of the 
girl .than of the boy, for if the examination usually 
opens out a career to the latter, it is generally 
perfectly fruitless to the former. After having taken 
her work at school in earnest, and devoted herself to 
it heart and soul, directly she has left school the girl 
feels the impulse given her suddenly checked ; hence 
a void in her life, a sudden suppression of all ambition 
but that of coquetry, of all recreation but the gossip 
of middle-class society. It is therefore essential, in 
the case of both sexes, to represent education as 
continuous, uninterrupted, and to be ended only with 

There should be no time when we cease to learn. 
Examinations, which are only a rough process to 
ascertain with more or less certainty what we know, 
ought especially to be a means of showing us what 
we do not yet know. A syllabus is only good as 
long as it is not taken too much in earnest, as long 
as it is not a barrier to the student, a limit to 
intellectual growth. Bodily growth continues often 
after twenty; intellectual growth should have abso- 
lutely no limit but death. Inspire children, and 
especially young girls, with a taste for reading, study, 
works of art, and elevated amusements ; this taste will 
be worth far more than all knowledge^ stfictly so 
called, artificially implanted in them ; instead of a 
mind furnished with lifeless knowledge, you will have 
a mind at once living, moving, and progressive. 
Instead of allowing the brain to become atrophied by 
excess of expenditure, you will have a larger and 


larger brain, capable of transmitting to the race 
loftier moral and intellectual dispositions, and that 
without prejudice to what is the basis of all the rest — 
physical and vital energy. 



Danger of maintaining a race under the same social conditions, 
especially in a high state of civilisation— Necessity for change of 
occupation and environment — How intellectual superiority may be 
dangerous to a race — ‘'Rotation of crops” in intellectual culture — 
The choice of professions. 

The prolonged continuance of a race under the same 
social conditions is generally fatal to the life of that 
race. In fact, every social condition involves some- 
thing conventional, and if the sum total of conven- 
tions is opposed to the healthy development of life in 
one single pointy even if it be favourable on all other 
points, this harmful action, increased by time, will 
disequilibrate the race with a certainty proportional 
to the degree of its adaptation to this artificial 
environment The result will be insanity, or the 
extinction of the race. Accordingly, since it is 
impossible to meet with a social environment perfect 
in every detail from the hygienic point of view, the 
only hope for the vitality of a race lies in a change 
of environment, which corrects the evil influence by 
influences in a contrary direction. Improved means 
of communication, by facilitating, so to speak, com- 
bustion and ventilation in the great social furnaces, 
only makes the danger more pressing. One of the 
results is the frightful increase of madness in towns. 


There are 530 cases of madness to every 100 of 
tubercular meningitis.^ London, in this respect, 
exceeds the average by 39 per cent. Similarly, 
suicides increase in number daily: the suicides at 
Paris are one-seventh of the suicides in the whole of 
France, and those of the Department of the Seine a 
tenth. Excessive strain in the struggle for existence, 
toil in unhealthy workshops, alcoholism, debauchery 
made easy, nervous contagion, an impure atmosphere 
— ^these are the perils. The life of the social organism, 
like that of all other organisms, is maintained by 
combustion ; and it is not foreign material that is 
burned in the most active furnaces of life, but the 
living cellules themselves. The present social order 
creates on the one hand an idle class, on the other 
an overworked class, and holds out to the overworked, 
by way of ideal, the state of the idle — a state not 
altogeAer to be envied. To do nothing leads to 
wanting everything, without having the power of 
accomplishing anything; hence the fundamental 
immorality of the idle, — that is to say, of a whole 
class of society. The best means of limiting and 
regulating passion is continuous action ; and at the 
same time this action is the means of satisfying 
whatever there may be in passion reasonable and 
conformable to social laws. 

It may not be intellectual superiority in itself which 
is dangerous to a race, for, on the contrary, this 
supericJrity gives the race an advantage in natural 

^ There is a general opinion that there is more tuberculosis of the 
lungs in the insane than in the sane. Dr. Clouston found an hereditary 
predisposition to insanity in seven per cent, more of the insane who 
were tubercular than in the insane generally.— FaiVtf Maudsley, 
Mind and Body, pp. 97-99. —Mercier, Samiy and Insanity, pp. 184- 
233* (Tr.) 



selectioa The danger is in no superiority, whatever 
it may be, but in the temptations of every kind that 
superiorities bring in their train. The temptation 
most difficult to resist in our modem society is that 
of completely exploiting our talents, of extracting 
from them every particle of practical profit, and of 
bartering them for the maximum money and honour 
they can give. It is this unlimited exploiting of 
superiorities which renders them perilous. The fact 
is so incontestable that we may see it verified in the 
very forms of superiority which seem the most cer- 
tain guarantee of survival— those of physical and 
muscular strength. If a man is so remarkably strong 
that he thinks he can turn his strength to account 
and become an athlete, he considerably diminishes 
the chances of existence for himself, and conse' 
quently for his race. Physical strength is blended 
to some degree with the very conditions of life ; but 
to wish to exploit the conditions of life is to alter 
them. The best principle of all moral hygiene would 
therefore be to persuade the individual to spare him- 
self, not to consider any talent in himself or his 
children as a goose laying golden eggs, and finally 
to look upon life as having to be, not exploited, but 
preserved, increased, and propagated. 

The consequence of this principle of physiological 
economy in education is the art of measuring and 
directing culture, especially intellectual culture; of 
not making it too intense, too limited to a'single 
point of the intellect, but of always proportioning its 
extension and intension. The alternation of culture 
in the race should be a principle of no less import- 
ance. Rotation of crops ought to be as elementary a 
rule in education as in agriculture, for it is absolutely 


impossible to successfully cultivate for an unlimited 
period a given plant in the same soil, or a given apti- 
tude in the same race. Some day perhaps a distinc- 
tion will be drawn between the occupations likely to 
exhaust or improve a race, just as a distinction is 
drawn between plants that exhaust or improve the 
soil. The most healthy occupation, beyond dispute, 
is clearly that of the labourer or country gentleman ; 
and the way to preserve a succession of generations 
at once robust and brilliant would be to make them 
live alternately a town and country life ; to make 
them recuperate in the vegetative life of the peasant 
whenever they are exhausted by the nervous, and 
intellectual life of the inhabitants of towns. This 
ideal, which is far from being attained in France, 
might be easily realised, for we see it very 
often in England, where the importance of landed 
property, and the habits of a life a little less 
refined than ours, make the English aristocracy 
and middle class pass the greater part of their 
whole existence in their mansions or cottages, and 
give themselves up to those rural occupations which 
are an outlet for tlxe energy of the whole organisation. 

Without in the least wishing to trace the line of 
conduct to be followed in so complex a juncture as the 
choice of a profession, I think that it is the educator’s 
duty never to press the son to follow his father’s pro- 
fession, at least whenever that profession, as that of 
the artist, politician, savant, or simply man of business, 
or man of eminence, requires very considerable nervous 
expenditure. There is nothing more naive, considered 
from the higher point of view, than the dread of 
obscurity, the dread of being “ a nobody.” The real 
qualities of a race are not lost because they are not 

28 o 


immediately exposed to view ; on the contrary, they 
accumulate, and genius only proceeds from the boxes 
in which the poor have day by day hoarded up their 
talents instead of squandering them in follies. It is 
not without reason that the Chinese decorate and 
ennoble the fathers instead of the sons ; celebrated 
children are prodigal, and the capital they expend 
is not theirs. Nature acquires her greatest riches 
when she is asleep. Now, in our impatience, we 
cannot sleep; we want to see the generations always 
awake, always at work. Once more, the only way of 
permitting this restless effort and constant expendi- 
ture to continue is to vary it incessantly ; we must 
resign ourselves to our sons being other than we are, 
or to their ceasing to exist 

The end of every social and pedagogic reform 
ought not to be the decrease in human society of 
effort — that essential condition of all progress — but 
on the contrary the increase of productive effort by a 
better organisation and distribution of forces, as we 
often increase the amount of work done in a day by 
reducing the hours of labour from twelve to ten. 
For that purpose the first thing to be done is to 
place humanity, and especially children, under better 
hygienic conditions — the sanitation of houses and 
workshops, decrease of mental and physical labour, 
etc. Secondly, we must substitute among the masses 
for a certain space of time well-directed intellectual 
work for material work. Among the wealthy dasses 
a minimum of material work must counterbalance the 
disequilibration entailed by exclusively intellectual 
work or by idleness. Unfortunately, nowadays 
increase of social foresight is produced mainly in 
economics, and economic foresight is often opposed 


to really social and hygienic foresight Saving a 
capital of money, and even of honours, is often the 
exact contrary of saving health and strength for the 
race. Take the case of a poor young man who 
hopes to get married as soon as his social position is 
sufficiently improved, and who overburdens himself 
with work (examinations, preparation for State 
schools, etc.). He is already an old man when he 
marries, with an overworked nervous system, and 
with a constitution best adapted for the degeneration 
of his race. Further, in virtue of the economic 
foresight which has guided him hitherto, he will 
restrict the number of his children — another chance 
of degeneration, the first-born being as a rule far 
from being the best endowed. The conclusion is 
that there is often an antinomy between economic 
foresight, which has two terms — extreme parsimony 
with regard to money, and extreme expenditure with 
regard to strength — and hygienic or moral foresight, 
which consists in sparing one’s health, and only 
expending strength in proportion as the expendi- 
ture, rapidly recuperated, constitutes exercise and not 

As we have seen, the too rapid growth of economy, 
which represents a certain amount of physical work 
thrown out of employment, is always dangerous 
in a race, when it is not accompanied by a 
proportional increase of intellectual and moral 
capacity, which permits the physical strength set 
free by economy to be used in some other 
way. All economy of material wealth may be 
an occasion of moral prodigality. True progress 
consists in the methodic transformation of physical 
labour into well-regulated intellectual labour, and not 



in the cessation or decrease of work. If rotation were 
properly understood and applied, the social ideal would 
consist in an absolute and increasing production, 
whereas the purely economical ideal is only the decrease 
of -the necessity of production, which generally leads to 
an actual decrease in production. We have to substitute 
for the external necessities (hunger and misery), which 
have hitherto been man’s taskmasters and have often 
enforced excessive toil, a series of internal necessities, 
of intellectual and moral needs, corresponding to new 
capacities, which will urge him to regular work in 
proportion to his strength. This would be the trans- 
formation of physical effort and muscular tension 
into a nervous tension and attention^ but into attention 
regulated, varied, and applied to different objects, 
with intervals for rest. 



Some partisans of evolution, pushing to an extreme 
the thesis of Maudsley and Ribot, and even Spencer 
himself, come to the conclusion that the most elevated 
stage of perfection for man, and consequently the 
most perfect type of the moral ideal, and the aim of 
education, would be a complete state of automatism, 
in which intellectual acts and the most complicated 
sentiments would be alike reduced to purely reflex 
actions. “Every conscious act,” they say, “every 
thought, every sentiment, presupposes an imperfec- 
tion, a delay, a check, a want of organisation; if, 
therefore, to form the type of ideal man we take the 
quality which all others presuppose, and which does 
not itself presuppose any other — viz., organisation — 
and if we think of it as raised to the highest possible 
degree, our ideal of man is an unconscious automaton 
marvellously complicated and unified.”^ This theory 
of the ideal human being is, in my opinion, based 
upon ^an inaccurate conception of the world and 

Unconscious automatism could only be the perfect 
organisation of past experiences or perceptions ; but 

^ Paulhan, “ Le Devoir etla Science Morale,” R&oue Philosophique^ 
December 1886. 



these past perceptions cannot, in the individual and 
the race, entirely coincide with future perceptions, 
unless we suppose that man is placed eternally in the 
same environment — that is to say, that the world is 
arrested in its evolution. Now, such a cessation of 
progress is neither admissible from the scientific, nor 
desirable from the practical, point of view ; it offers 
none of the characteristics of the ideal. Hence the 
ideal for man is not the adaptation to his environment 
once for all^ an adaptation which would in fact issue 
in automatism and unconsciousness ; it is an increasing 
facility of readaptation to the changes of the environ- 
ment, a flexibility, an educability which is nothing 
but an intellect and a consciousness ever becoming 
more perfect If, in fact, adaptation to things is a 
work of unconscious habit, incessant readaptation is 
the characteristic of the conscious intellect and of the 
will, the work of education. Consciousness is not 
purely and simply an arrested reflex action, as 
contemporary psychologists so often define it ; it is a 
corrected reflex action, brought into correspondence 
with the changes of the environment, wound up 
anew rather than stopped. And the ideal is not to 
suppress this readaptation to the environment, but to 
make it continuous by the conscious prevision of 
those changes that may bring about the double 
evolution of the man and the world. This conscious 
prevision will suppress shocks, surprise, and anguish, 
increasing the part played, not by automatism, but by 
the intellect; the intellect alone can prepare us for 
the future, and can adapt us to the partial unknown 
of time and space. This unknown, although not yet 
present with us, is prefigured by ideas and senti- 
ments ; hence a moral and intellectual environment,— 


a conscious environment from which we cannot escape, 
and which will always protect us from automatism. 

It is very superficial to suppose that science and 
scientific education tend to automatism because they 
use the memory for the storing up and organising 
of facts, and that on the other hand the memory, 
being automatic, reaches its perfection in unconscious 
recollection, in habit; in other words, in reflex 
action. Science would thus have as its ideal 
routine — that is, its own antithesis. We forget 
that science is not constituted merely by the 
knowledge acquired, but by the manner in 
which this knowledge is constantly employed to 
gain further knowledge and to turn it into new 
channels of action. Progress constantly increases 
the number of machines and instruments at man's 
disposal, and among the instruments, knowledge 
organised into a habit — instruction — takes the 
first rank. But the possession of machines ever more 
and more complicated by no means tends to turn 
man into a machine ; on the contrary, the more the 
number of our internal and external instruments is 
increased, the more the mass of our unconscious 
perceptions and stored-up knowledge increases, the 
greater is our power of voluntary attention : power 
and consciousness are developed simultaneously. To 
think, for example, that the rdk of the unconscious is 
larger in the savant than in the peasant would be 
naive ;* unconsciousness in the savant is no doubt 
much more complicated, presenting, like the brain, 
countless convolutions and windings, but the con- 
sciousness is at the same time developed in an 
even greater proportion. In a word, it is strange 
to be called upon to prove that ignorance alone, 



and not science, is routine. As the sphere of 
knowledge widens, and the points of contact with 
the unknown increase, it follows that every 
adaptation of the intellect to the known only 
makes a readaptation to more extended knowledge 
easier and more necessary. To know is to be led as 
a whole to learn more and to be able to do more. 
That is why curiosity increases with knowledge and 
instruction : an inferior man is not curious in the real 
sense of the word— curious as to new ideas and 
higher generalisations. What will save science is 
what has constructed it, and what will again construct 
it — insatiable curiosity. And although science tends 
to make more and more use of habit and reflex action, 
to widen its substructure in the unconscious, as we 
extend the foundations of a lofty building, we may 
assert that science is the extending and luminous 
consciousness of the human race, that the practical 
knowledge and power of man will always be measured 
by his power of inner reflexion. 

M. Ribot maintains that our pedagogy is based 
entirely upon a colossal blunder, because it looks for 
the improvement of a country by a better organisation 
of education Action, he adds, does not depend upon 
Ae intellect, but upon the will and sentiment, and 
instruction has no hold on one or the other. M. 
Fouillde, on the contrary, attributes force to ide as ’ 
and thinks that every idea corresponding to a senti- 
ment tends to some action. In the same way, Accord- 
ing to M. Espinas, when the will and emotions in a 
people are affected by incurable diseases— diseases 
connected with organic waste or with some deeply 
rooted change of temperament— in that case it is no 
doubt chimerical to hope that health will come from 


what IS taught at school ; but, as long as a vestige of 
hope remains (and no one has a right to despair of his 
country), if an effective influence can be exercised on 
this people, if its will can become strengthened, and 
the play of the emotions once more become normal, 
it is by ideas — true ideas, i.e.^ science — ^that cure and 
improvement can be attained.^ Let us therefore * 
examine more closely the r&le of the consciousness in 
psychical evolution in general, and moral evolution in 

The term consciousness is used to designate a 

* ** What is sentiment,” says M. Espinas, “if it be not the excite- 
ment resulting from a more or less obscure view of the dangers or advan- 
tages which may accrue to us ? What is the will, however instinctive 
we suppose it to be, if it is not the impulse of that part of our ideas to 
which heredity or habit has attached the strongest sentiment ? Now, 
does it not, in a certain measure, depend upon the educator to give to 
certain ideas a preponderating force, by showing their connection with 
the most pressing interests, and then by habit to bend the will to sub- 
mit to the influence of those ideas ? And may not the character — nay, 
the temperament — ^be thus modified in the long run, as far as the vitality 
transmitted to the race permits? If this be untrue, point out the way 
to act directly on the will and its emotional source ! It may perhaps be 
said that new sentiments may be aroused by the communicated emotion 
springing from inspired speech, by example, by authoritative accent or 
gesture, and by the fine arts ; but here again it must be admitted that 
poetry and eloquence count among the fine arts, that the accent is that 
of a voice using words, that example is interpreted by language, that 
the emotion of the educator moves the heart of the disciple, having first 
reached it by way of his thoughts. If this were not so, we should be 
confronted by a mysterious pedagogy, which would operate in silence 
like grace, and would abandon teaching and take to praying. The 
choice must be made ; we must either try to modify the will by the 
idea, or give up trying to reform the will. It follows that to bring 
up youth, to institute methods of education, psychological and social 
science — the exact knowledge of the laws of the mind and the con- 
ditions of existence under which it moves — cannot do all things, but it 
can do all that is possible. Science will turn out to be powerless only 
where there will be no room for its application. It is not the fault of 
the crow-bar if the arm that wields it finds it too heavy.” 


mental state which, in its- physiological conditions, is 
certainly more complex than the state of uncon- 
sciousness; this state, when once produced, forms a 
new unit of force (even from the physiological point 
of view) among the component forces acting within 
us. That is the basis of the theory of “idea- 
forces,” to which the following pages are a con- 

A conscious phenomenon does not act absolutely 
in the same way in the chain of physiological 
phenomena as a purely unconscious phenomenon, 
and it introduces into that chain a new force. 

In fact : — 1st, the consciousness is primarily a more 
'complete organisation, by which one phenomenon 
becomes attached in time to another as antecedent or 
consequent. The idea of time clearly presupposes 
the existence of consciousness. Now, there is no 
complete organisation, even in an intellect conceived as 
purely automatic, apart from time, which introduces 
sequence into phenomena, at any rate apparently of 
the nature of empirical causality.^ The fact that we 
have consciousness allows us “to recognise pheno- 
mena as having occupied a clearly-defined position 
among other states of consciousness.”^ In fact, it 
furnishes us with the essential idea, that what has 
been done once may be done again, that we are 
capable of self-imitation, self-differentiation, or self- 

2nd. The consciousness, constituting a betffer or- 
ganisation, -and in certain respects a concentration of 
psychical phenomena, also constitutes a centre of 
attraction for the psychical forces. As with sidereal 

^ Vide my study on La Gen^se de VIdie de Temps, 

® Vide M. Ribot, Maladies de la Mtmoire, 


matter, which attracts in proportion to its condensa- 
tion into a nucleus, so with the mind. Consciousness 
is action concentrated, solidified, and, in a measure, 
crystallised. Further, this action is self- transparent : 
it is a self-conscious formula ; now every act clearly 
formulated ipso facto acquires new power of attraction 
and selective affinity. Every temptation which is 
vague and indeterminate to the consciousness is 
easily overcome ; when it is determinate and formu- 
iated, and assumes the outlines of a conscious act, it 
may become irresistible.^ 

3rd. The consciousness may act spontaneously as 
a general exciting influence on the organism. M. 
F6r6 has attempted to prove, by a series of psycho- 
physiological experiments, that all sensation not 
painful is a stimulant of energy. If we thus admit 
that sensation has a dynamogenic power, it is not 
illogical to admit that consciousness — ^which underlies 
all sensations, and which is in its origin only sensa- 
tion — shares in this dynamogenic power. “ We like 
sensations,” said Aristotle; if we like them, it is 
because they seem to act like a tonic ; but we also 
like to have consciousness, and it is probable that 
from it we draw an immediate advantage in general 

4th. The consciousness in a great measure simplifies 
what I shall call the inner circulation and course of 
ideas, and their relations one with another, which make 
it possfele to compare and classify them. 

As the idea constitutes the life of the intellect, it 
also constitutes the life of the will, which is, properly 
speaking, moral life. The force of an idea, in fact, is 
in direct ratio to the number of states of consciousness 
’ Cf. the previous chapter on “ Suggestion.” 



the idea is able to dominate and regulate. When 
a man acts conformably to an idea, his sense of that 
intellectual and regulative force will be inversely pro- 
portional to the purely blind and physical impulse to 
action prompting him at the same moment. Now, 
action according to the ideas is ipso facto will — 2.^., the 
commencement of moral life. Thanks to the idea, 
all action is immediately formulated within the 
mental presence-chamber of the moral agent, and 
classed by him ; it spontaneously takes its place in 
the series of states of consciousness characterised by 
this or that general tone of emotion or sensation, while 
the individual and objective features of the action are 
considered of secondary importance. This classifica- 
tion becomes by force of habit almost instantaneous : 
it takes place in the somnambulistic sleep as well as 
in the waking state. To think of an action is to 
have already summarily judged it, to feel oneself 
attracted or repelled by the whole group of 
tendencies with which it is connected. The common 
characteristic of very primitive races and children 
of an early age is the want of constancy and 
permanency in the moral impulses ; or, in other and 
better words, they do not, as a rule, feel a constant 
impulse to action ; and almost all those impulses 
which do issue in action assume the intermittent 
character of physical wants, such as hunger, thirst, 
etc.; even love itself, as an exclusive and insatiable 
passion, does not exist in them. All their emotions 
are transient It follows that they can only 
exceptionally feel the influence of an* idea-force, 
the dictate of an “obligation.** What we call the 
moral sentiments are not absolutely wanting, but 
they only act at the moment ; in fact, primitive man 


has moral caprices^ but no organise! morality; it is 
much easier for him to be heroic than straightforward 
and equitable. And these caprices, whether satisfied 
or not satisfied, tend to extinction, without leaving 
any deep trace in him, because whatever prevents 
him from exerting self-restraint under the pressure of 
an emotional impulse, also prevents him from detain- 
ing this impulse when present to his mind; his 
thoughts wander, because he is powerless and 
incapable of effort : his consciousness is not complex 
enough for these emotional influences to counteract each 
other for long, so as to avert immediate expenditure 
and exhaustion of energy in spontaneous movements. 
He does not know what a line of conduct is, and he 
will only learn it by a very slow evolution. 

The progress which gradually substitutes the reign 
of tenacious and harmonised impulses for this reign 
of caprice, of transient and discordant impulses, tends 
to form the character; and it is this progress which 
also tends to the formation of morality. To have 
character is to conform one’s conduct to certain 
empirical or theoretical rules, to cei'tain idea-forces, 
which may be good or bad, but which always intro- 
duce harmony, beauty, and moral worth. 

To have character is to experience an impulse so 
strong and regular in its power as to subordinate all 
others to itself. In the individual such an impulse 
may be more or less anti-social ; we may have 
character, and so may present a certain inward beauty 
and, ipso facto^ present an elementary morality with 
a regulated conduct, and nevertheless be but one of 
the “unclassed” in the race — perhaps a brigand. 
On the other hand, when we have to deal with 
a race, especially with the human face in general. 



the character and the triumph of the social instincts 
ought in the main to coincide, for selection excludes 
every individual realising an anti-social type of con- 
duct The poem of life excludes a Manfred and a 
Lara ; it may at the present day be safely asserted 
that men who have the most will have the best will ; 
that the best co-ordinated lives are the most moral; 
that the most admirable characters from the aesthetic 
point of view are also, as a rule, the most admirable 
from the moral point of view ; that, in fact, the reign 
of morality is more or less partially established within 
us as soon as we are able to establish any authority 
or subordination within ourselves. 

Consciousness, therefore, is not only a complication, 
but, from certain points of view, a simplification ; that 
is why it came into being, and that is why it cannot 
disappear before the progress of mechanical organi- 
sation. We may form for ourselves an impressive 
picture of the struggle of unconscious tendencies and 
impulses, by representing it as a hand-to-hand con- 
flict between men fighting blindly in the dark : the 
day breaks, discloses the respective conditions of the 
armies, and at one stroke decides the battle. Even 
though the result were the same, it is greatly 
furthered, and a considerable expenditure of energy 
and life is thus avoided : and this is precisely what 
happens when consciousness brings to light the 
obscure struggle of the propensities. It shows us^ the 
respective powers of each — a power in most* cases 
proportional to the generality of ideas represented 
by each propensity — and it spares us from being 
inwardly torn and harassed by useless struggles. 
It should also be noticed that unconsciousness, 
like “ darkness,” is always a relative term ; as 


there is light in every shade, so it is probable that 
there are everywhere lower phases of consciousness. 
If the idea does not, properly speaking, create force, 
it economises it to a great extent. But it is perhaps 
not enough to say merely that it accelerates the 
result ; the idea may modify the relation of the forces. 
The influence of an idea, or, to use a physiological 
expression, of a certain vibration of the brain, is 
habitually proportional to the number of states of the 
nervous system by which it is escorted. Now, for an 
unconscious being to experience this force belonging 
to an idea, it has actually to pass through the 
whole series of successive modifications of the 
nervous system in which the vibration in question is 
manifested. On the other hand, when the conscious- 
ness intervenes, it is enough to imagine these states 
to immediately grasp the real force of the idea. Now 
we see what simplification the consciousness implies. 
It is the future become present ; it is the period in 
which the collective results of evolution are concen- 
trated in a moment. Thought is evolution condensed 
in some way or other. We may consider an idea as 
the abstraction of a sentiment, and sentiment as an 
abstraction of sensation, and finally sensation as an 
abstraction and a scheme of a very general objective 
state, of a kind of vital nisus more or less indeter- 
minate in itself.^ Thus, by a series of successive 
abstractions, each of which is at' the same time a 
determination (for the abstract has its outlines always 
more simply defined than the concrete, and the 
difference between them is exactly the difference 
between a sketch and a painting), we rise from 

^ Sensation is here used as equivalent to painful or pleasurable feel- 
ing produced by sensory stimulation. (Tr.) 


more or less shapeless life to the most definite 
thought, and all progress toward the abstract marks 
an economy of force, a simplification of the internal 
mechanism, in that “shifting and living number” 
which constitutes life, and which Plato called 
Thought is the algebra of the world ; and this algebra 
has made possible the most complex mechanism, has 
placed 'the most colossal power in the hands of man. 
The progress of evolution is measured by the increas- 
ing share taken in it by the abstract as compared 
with the concrete. The more the concrete is dis- 
solved, effaced, subtilised, the more it gives place 
to regular outlines ; thought, as such, is but a 
sketch; but by refining this sketch we approxi- 
mate to the ideal masterpiece that nature strives 
to attain. Every line clearly fixed in the con- 
sciousness becomes a possible direction in action, 
and every possibility is a force. So abstract 
thought, — the supreme object of intellectual in- 
struction, — ^which appears to be the most estranged 
from the domain of vital forces, may nevertheless be 
a very great force under certain relations, and may 
even become the supreme force, provided that it 
marks the straightest line and that of least resistance. 
The paths traced out in the world by thought are 
like the broad thoroughfares we see from a height 
like bands across a large town : at first they seem 
empty, but presently the eye distinguishes swarming 
life : they are the arteries of the town, through^which 
the most intense circulation goes on. 

If there be in the very consciousness of a pheno- 
menon a certain additional force, increasing the 
anterior force peculiar to that phenomenon, it follows 
that “idea-forces” really do exist We must 


understand by idea-force that surplus force added to an 
idea by the mere fact of its reflexion in consciousness, 
having for its physical correlative a surplus motor 
force. The surplus force is the result of a comparison 
of the idea with others present in consciousness. This 
confronting of ideas, this inner balancing, is enough 
to make some rise and others sink. Those which tend 
to gain the mastery are always : — ist The most 
general ideas, and therefore those most often asso- 
ciated with the greatest number of other ideas, instead 
of being repelled by them ; the idea-force is therefore 
the force of which the power is proportional to its. 
degree of rationality and consciousness, and which 
does not borrow that power from the domain of 
unconscious habits, but from its relation to other 
"conscious ideas — from its very generality. 2nd. The 
most effective ideas, which awaken the most active 
sentiments without provoking by opposition any 
depressive state. From these two laws follows a 
simplification of inward difficulties to the advantage 
of the most general or the most emotional ideas. 

From the preceding considei ations ensues the 
confirmation not of the impotence of ideas, but of 
the power of ideas and education. Thus, far from 
every perfect organisation having to issue in the 
unconscious, it is impossible to picture to oneself a 
perfect and yet unconscious organisation. The state 
of copsciousness acts as a link interposed in partly 
"unconscious” reasonings, which may operate during 
an eclipse of the inner illumination. 

In higher species the evolution and education of the 
individual consciousness is much more vast and com- 
plex, and is also much longer and more continuous; it 
extends to the farthest limits of life. One of the traits 


characterising man as compared with the animal, and 
the civilised man as compared with the savage, is that 
his intellect is longer capable of new acquisitions, is not 
checked in its growth, and does not close in upon the 
knowledge acquired, as certain plants close in upon 
the insects they stifle. In the same way, one of the 
essential traits characterising the man of genius, 
according to Galton and Sully, is that his intellect, 
more perfect than the average, has a longer evolution. 
Genius produces both sooner and later ; the brain of a 
great man is fatigued less rapidly than his limbs ; his 
fecundity is not suspended — it lasts up to the grave : 
being, as it were, less prone to death, he is less con- 
scious of its approach.. The evolution of the human 
consciousness, therefore, tends in the higher types of 
humanity to fill the whole of existence. Thus nature* 
ever tends to diminish the long night of unconscious 
childhood and imbecile old age which is to be found 
in the lower stages of humanity. Further, when we 
see the limits of fecundity and education recede for 
the human consciousness, it may not be anti-scientific 
to hope that perhaps one day, after many ages have 
passed away, the limits of its existence may also 
recede ; that the brain will have more vitality than 
the rest of the body. Not only by its most universal 
and impersonal ideas, but by the very curve of its 
evolution, by the ever-increasing power and duration 
of its inward fecundity, the human consciousness will 
tend more and more to bring in its train a wider 



Letter to the Editor of the Revue PhilosophiqueP 

February 1883. 

I send you a few reflexions— suggested by an important 
article of M. Richet’s — on artificial modifications of the moral 
character and moral tendencies in induced somnambulism. 

1 . 

M. Richet treats of two questions — amnesia of the person- 
ality, and unconscious memory. 

To completely demonstrate “ amnesia of the personality ” in 
cases of induced somnambulism, we must effectually prove 
amnesia of the moral character^ the essential mark of the 
personality; this transformation of character is only partially 
produced in the well-known case quoted by Dr. Azam, but 1 
can find it nowhere in the researches of M. Richet — ^that is to 
say, presented in a sufficiently formal manner. For instance, I 
should have been better satisfied if, when transforming Mme. 

A. into a general, he had placed before her some moral 

alternative, and had given her the choice of two honourable 
posts^one of which was a post of almost certain death ; we then 
should have seen if feminine timidity would have prevailed. It 
seems to me extremely probable that many somnambulists, 
playing the same rdle again and again, would act differently 
under the same circumstances, according to sex, education, 
habits, etc. Probably the married woman of whom M. Richet 
speaks would not have acquitted herself in her rdle of sailor 
with the same crudity of expression as the second patient ; she 

19-1 , 



would probably have displayed hesitation in certain scenes of 
rough action. In other words, the old personality ought not to 
disappear totally and give place to a personality dropped from 
the clouds ; the newly-awakened tendencies are, doubtless, only 
a composition of forces pre-existing in the organism, with the 
new impulse implanted by the will of the magnetiser. 

Perhaps M. Richet may have gone too far in drawing a fine 
distinction between the “drama actually lived” by somnambu- 
lists and the drama composed by dramatic authors, or played 
by actors. Poets or musicians of a very impressionable and 
nervous temperament have really lived the rdles they com- 
posed. Weber believed he saw the devil when he summoned 
him in his music; Shelley had hallucinations; Flaubert 
(according to M. Taine) had the taste of arsenic in his mouth 
when he was describing the poisoning of M. Bovary; Malibran 
at times thought she was Desdemona. In the same way, in 
our dreams, we are each of us transformed into another human 
being, or even a horse, or a bird, etc. Even in waking life there 
are always within us, as in Mattre Jacques, several personalities, ^ 
whom the mere changing of garments may successively arouse. 
The very timbre of the voice, which is so closely connected with 
the personality, is changed in a most remarkable way as we 
pass from one rdle to another, and a person has not the same 
tone of voice in a drawing-room as in the bosom of his family. 
If the proverb, “You never know a man until you have eaten a 
bushel of salt with him,” is eternally true; it is because, to know 
a man thoroughly, we must have seen him play successively 
every rdle in the drama of life. It is none the less certain that 
in the case of persons dilFering in the widest degree, each 
preserves intact the sum total of hereditary and acquired ten- 
dencies which are his alone, and which constitute his indi- 
viduality — his character. Whether these instincts are latent 
and completely unconscious (as in dreams and somnambulism), 
or remain vaguely conscious (as sometimes happens the 
waking state), is of secondary importance, provided they exist 
and operate. Maitre Jacques is still Mattre Jacques, whether 
he be coachman or cook ; he will even entirely forget the former 
part while playing the latter; but he will no more, on that 
account, lose all the traits of his moral character, or his inward 
features, than he will absolutely change the features of his 
face. We are never conscious of all our being, and it is easy to 



understand that in certain cases of delirium this always very 
limited consciousness is still more narrowly limited so as to 
include only the provisional personality assigned to the patient 
at the time. But the totality of the person and of the character 
still subsist in penumbra, and it remains a constant cause of 
internal phenomena. When the fog covers the sea, and a 
small ray of light, piercing a cloud, falls on the moving waters, 
the circumscribed spot illuminated by it seems to move 
spontaneously, and to be something distinct, separate, and 
independent ; but in reality this spot borrows the quivering of 
its surface from the undulating movement of the whole ocean. 
Thus the habitual tendencies of our moral character and 
personality ought to be re-discovered, even in the most 
manifest disturbances which seem to suppress them. M. Richet 
wishes to establish a distinction between the personality and 
the ego, so as to reduce the former exclusively to a pheno- 
menon of the memory; but does not he himself admit of 
unconscious memory in the waking state ? This memory ought 
, also to exist in the somnambulistic state, and to closely link 
together the different phases of transformation ; moreover, this 
memory is largely conscious; is there not in every instance 
quoted a memory of words, and therefore of ideas and impres- 
sions, and will not those impressions always bear the specific 
mark of the individuality? It is probable that we may even 
find in every somnambulist, as in every writer, a kind of 
personal sfyle, and “ the style is the man.” The sum total of 
mechanical phenomena, which are the basis of the individual 
from the scientific point of view, cannot suddenly vanish ; new 
combinations are produced, but there is nothing which could 
resemble creation. 

11 . 

Wli^t are certainly more remarkable in the cases quoted by 
M. Richet are the instances of unconscious memory which 
recall the marvellous and terrible legends about Cagliostro. In 
these examples M. Richet seems to have been able to create in 
every detail, by means of an external command, an inner 
tendency, a propensity persisting in shadow after the return to 
the waking state, and in some measure imposing itself on the 
wiU of the patient. In these curious cases, the dream of the 



somnambulist seems still to dominate him and direct his life 
after he is awake. The inverse had been noticed long ago. It 
had been observed that we each can, more or less, regulate our 
sleep, and in a certain measure control our dreams, and fix 
beforehand the hour of awaking. In my own case, I have 
often noticed this influence of the will over dreams — an 
influence quite unconscious during the dream itself, and never- 
theless easier to ascertain when awake ; I have very often half 
awakened myself in the midst of melancholy dreams ; I have 
willed to change their direction, and resuming the thread -of 
the same dream I have known it become cheerful. 

I think that here is a fertile source of experiment which is 
very curious and very important in the study of instincts.^ In 
fact the commands of the magnetiser seem to arouse in the 
midst of all the instincts of the being, a new tendency, a nascent 
artificial instinct. 

The most curious case related by M. Richet is in a previous 
article (October 1880). It is about a woman who was naturally 
a very small eater. One day, during her sleep, M., Richet tol 4 , 
her she must make heartier meals. When she awoke, she had 
entirely forgotten the injunction ; however, a few days after, 
the hospital nurse took M. Richet aside and told him she could 
not understand the change that had been effected in the patient. 
“Now,” she said, “she is always asking for more food than I 
give her.” If this case has been accurately observed, this is 
not only the carrying out of a -particular command, but an 
unconscious impulse closely akin to natural instinct. In fact 
every instinct, natural or moral, is derived, as Cuvier points out, 
from a kind of somnambulism, because it gives an order of 
which we do not know the reason. We hear the “voice of 
conscience” without knowing from whence it comes. To vary 
the experiment, the patient should have been ordered not only 
to eat, but, for example, to get up early in the morning, and to 
work hard. We might eventually modify in this way th^ moral 
character of individuals, and induced somnambulism might 
assume an important place, as a means of action, in the moral 
hygiene of humanity.® All these tempting hypotheses remain 
pending till the observations of M. Richet have been confirmed 
with sufficient scientific accuracy. 

^ These experiments have since been made. 

3 Education and K&redity^ chap. i. 



If these experiments are confirmed, we might go further still, 
and try if it be not possible to annihilate, by a series of repeated 
commands, this or that natural instinct. It is said that a som- 
nambulist may be made to lose her memory — for example, her 
memory for names ; we may even, according to M. Richet, 
destroy the whole memory (Revue Philoso^hique^ Nov. 1880); 
he adds — “the experiment should be attempted with every 
possible precaution; I have seen such terror and disorder in 
the intellect supervene in a case of this kind, lasting for about 
a quarter of an hour, that I would not willingly repeat this 
dangerous experiment.” If, with most psychologists, we iden- 
tify memory with habit and instinct, we should imagine it 
impossible to provisionally annihilate in the somnambulist this 
or that instinct, even those of the most fundamental character — 
such as the maternal instinct, etc. Next, we ought to ascertain 
if this suppression of the instinct leaves traces when the som- 
nambulist is awakened. We might in all cases try the experi- 
ment on hereditary habits or manias ; we might try if a series 
^f orders or admonitions repeatedly given during sleep could 
diminish, for example, delusions of grandeur or of persecution. 
In other words, we should try to counteract a natural by an 
artificial mania. In this way somnambulism would be a richer 
field than madness for moral and psychological observations. 
Both are derangements of the mental mechanism; but in 
induced somnambulism the derangement may be measured 
and regulated by the magnetiser. 

We might conceive of an operation on the intellect and 
moral sense analogous to the operation for strabismus ; the 
squint is cured, not by strengthening the weaker muscles, but 
by relaxing those with sometimes more than their normal 
powers. However that may be, the facts given by M. Richet, 
if the result of accurate observation, certainly indicate a new 
method of research, and perhaps a new means of action on the 
huma» will, at least in its morbid state. 


Aboulia, 25 

Act, voluntary, 64 

Action, representation of reflex, 49, 

Adaptation, 49 
Adults, hypnotising of, 17 
^Esthetics, 200 
A'ideism, 23 
Alcoholism, 9 

Anarchic schools of Tolstoi, 190 

Anotnia, religious, 185 
Arnold, Matthew, 121 
Art 210 

Assaults, evidence of children in 
cases of indecent, 23 
Atavism, 99 

Athletics and morality, 122, mde 
Physical Exercise 
Arovta, moral, 93 

Attention, 165, 282 . , , 

Authority, power of, explained, 16 
Automatism, 283 e £ seq . 
Auto-suggestions, vide Suggestion 

Beaunis, 7 _ . 

Belgium, conditional franchise in, 


Bentham, 182 

Bersot, 124, 14 247 

Binet, 20 
Bluntschli, 198 
Boarding-schools, 113 
morality in, 115 
scholarships, 125 
Boarding'out system, 125 
Brahminism, 31 
Braine, ^ 

Breal, 122, 126, 254 
Buddhism, 60 

Caravams scolaires^ 153 
Ceremony, origin and value of, 52 
Chadwick, Sir Edwin, 134 
Children, bad-tempered, 41 
corporal punishment, 35 
evidence in courts of law, 23 
fiction natural to, 203 
generalisations of, 203 
assume their good qualities, 26 
hypnotisable, 23 
auto-suggestion in, 23, 26 
imagination of, 201, 213 
impositions and tasks, 29, 139 
lying of, 205 
love for parents, 87 
punishments, 29, 37, 38, 139 
remorse in, 41, 76, 91 
will to be trained, not broken, 34 
Chinese, wisdom of, 31, 33, 183 
Choice, liberty of, 61 
Civic instruction, 197 et seq. 

Classics, the, 235 
Collins, Wilkie, 120^ 

Commission on Hygiene, Report of, 

^ 39 > 141 o , 

Competition, 249, 271, 2S1, V7de 

Confucius, morality of, 31 
Consciousness, 284, 287-296 
and pain, 50 
power of, 60 . 
of impulsive force, 90 
the result of a struggle, 70 
of solidarity, 33, 40. ^2, 83 
Corporal punishment, 35 
Cottinet, 153 



Coubertin, 149 
Coulanges, Fustel de, 241 
Crammings 218, 258 
Cramp, writer’s, 138 
Crime, 100 

effect of education on, 179 
second offences, 27 
Criminals, characteristics of, 13 
Crops, rotation of, 277 et seq. 

Culture, 74 , 

Cuvier, 6 

D’Alembert, 104 

Darwin, 80, 82, 98 

Day Schools, Hygienic blunders in, 


Delboeuf, 6, 18 
Depravity, moral, 95 
Descartes, 176 
Desires, 68 

Development, of idea, 7 
physical, 160 
moral, 16 1 
intellectual, 16 1 
necessary to life, 73 
Deville, 114 
Discipline, 126, 188 
Dostoieffsky, 13 
Drawing, 215 

Dubois-Reymond, 143, 146 
Dupanloup, 149 

Duties, defined, 72 ; creation of, 68 

Education, inconsistency in, 38, 39 
influence of, 105 
object of, 1 12, 159 
continuation in after life, 174 
the best, 176 

inadequacy of purely intellectual, 


duty of State in, 1 86 
secondary, 234 
classical, 234 
higher, 251 
of girls, 260 

and rotation of crops, 277 
and evolution, 106, 283-296 
and morality, 106 ^ 

England, manual training in, 151 
gymnastics in, 144 
Environment, adaptation to, 49 
Epicurus, 182 

Erudition,- 175, 218 
Espinas, 287 
Ethics, in schools, 18 1 
Eton, 1 17 

Evidence, of children, 23 
difficulty in estimating, 243 
Evolution, moral, 96 

and education, 106, 283-296 
Examinations, 258, 274 
their effect on memory, 172 
competition and, 249, 271 
Exercise, physical, 128, vide 
Physical Training 
of memory, 172 

“ Faculties,” French and German, 
253 et seq. 

Fatality, 63 

Forces, idea, 64, 74, 89, 295, and 
Preface, ix. 

Frederick II L, 180 
Free will, 63, 84 
French gymnastics, 148 

Gall, 103 
Gallon, 26 

Games involve work, 164, vide 
Physical Training 
Garofalo, 95 
Genius, 104, 296 
Geography, 228 
German, Universities, 252 
gymnastics, 142 
Girls, education of, 260 et seq, 
Greek, 235 

Gymnastics, vide Physical Training 

Habits, 46-60 
“ Half-timers,” 134 
Harrow, 117, 150 
Health and sins, 32 
Herbaft, 109, 163, 187 
Heredity, 32, 44, ch. ii. passim, 97, 
100- 1 10, ch. ix. pd^im 
Hertel, 262 

Higher Education, 251 
Hindoos, their mysticism, 30 
History, 2 1 9, 223, 241 
Hoenig, 228 
Holiday tours, 153 
Hygienic conditions, 1 13, 139, 
141,' 150, 280 



Hypnotism, vide Suggestion 

Ideas, fixed, 44, 58 
not sole motive in action, 84 
of love, 85 

as forces, 89, 64, 74, 295, and 
Preface, ix. 

development of, suggested, 7 
Imitation, 14, 16 
Impositions, 139 
In fecundity, 158, 261 
Inhibition, 55 
Instincts, resistance of, 9 
formula of, 28 
moral stages of, 89 
force of .moral and social, 54 
of rescue, 55 
of a pointer, 55 
warlike, 99 
Instruction, 115 

civil and moral, 188, 197 
technical, 247 
jpsthetic, 200 

Joubert, 43 

Kant, 91, 109, 183 

Knowledge, useful and ornamental, 


Lagneau, 140 
Laprade, 148 
I,ateau, Louise, 3 
Latin, 235 
I.avisse, 225, 255 
Learning, love of, 175 
Leibnitz, 169 
Lidbault, ii 
Locke, 169 
Love, idea of, 85 
of learning, 175 
Lying, 20X 
Lytlleton, 121 

Man, a social being, 32 
the best, 33 , 

Maneuvrier, 240 
Manual training, 1 50 ei seg. 
hygienic effect of, 1 50 
at Ithaca, 15 1 
in England, 151 
Material religion, 265 ; 

Mathematics, 245 
Maximatioh, 109 
Memory, loss of, 9 
exhaustion of, 136 
exercise of, 172 
Methods, 162 
Michelet, 169, 186 
Monoideism, 14, 23 
Montaigne, in, 129 
Montesquieu, 178 
Moral, madness and idiocy, 94 
good, 69 

obligation, 79, 82, 88, 95 ' 
fecundity, 81 
instincts, stages of, 89 
instincts, origin, 96 
wounds, 92 
arovtay 93 
depravity, 95 
discipline, 188 ei seg. 
Morality, 69, 75 
genesis of, 71 

is the unity of the being, 79 
and the social instinct/ 81 
negative, 92 
dissolution of, 92 
and education, 106 
in boarding-schools, 114 
of Confucius, 31 
Morphinomania, 7 
Movements, muscular, 14 
Myers, 156 

Mysticism, Hindoo, 30 

Natural reactions, 188 
Normal types, 75 
Normality, 75, 78 

Obligation, sense of, 88 
formula of, 59 
solidarity of moral, 82 
moral, 95’ 

Objectivation of types, 39 
Obsession, defined, 57 
Order, a habit, $1 
Overpressure, intellectual, ill 
physical, 120 
general, 130 
in lyceums, 134 
in primary schools, 1 39 
I in great French schools, 256 

^ sterility from, 261 



Pain, 68 
Pascal, 237 
Patriotism, 224 
Peter, 138 
Pessimism, 156 
Physical training, 160 

Gymnastics, Swedish, 143 ; Ger- 
man, 142 ; English, 144 ; 
French, 148 

inferiority to games, 147 
compared with games, 120, 

139. 140 

Games involve work, 164 
Physical overpressure, 120 
Plato, 209 
Pleasure, 68 

Population, growth of, 155 
Power begetting duty, 72 
Precocity, danger of, 80 
Psittacism, 169 
Punishment, 35, 37, 139 

Ravaisson, 213 
Reactions, natural, 188 
Religion, maternal, 265 
of the school, 185 
Remorse, 76, gx 
in children, 41 
Renan, 115, 123 
Representation of Acts, 64 
Reversion, 99 
Ribot, 99, 286 
Richet, 9, 39, Appendices 
Rochard, 270 
Rochefoucauld, La, 84 
Rousseau, 142, 151, 169, 188 
Royer, Madame, 100 
Rugby, 1 17 

Russia, “real schools” in, i8o 

Salpetri^re, ii 
Salvation, 31 
Science, 245 

Scholarships, boarding, 125 
Schools and religion, 185 
Russian, “real,” 180 
Anarchic, xgo etseq. 

Selection, So 

Sentiments, suggestion of, 4 
complexity ol, 28 
Simon, 127, 128, 257 
Singing, 215 

Socrates, 86, 176 
Somnanibulism, vide Suggestion 
Solidarity, consciousness of, 33, 40, 
82, 83 

of responsibility, 90 
of moral obligation, 82 
Solitude, 76 

Spencer, 80, 97, 112, 130, 152, 
163, 188, 198, 247, 261, 283 
Sterility, 158, 261 
Stigmatics, 3 
Suggestion, nervous, 2-12 
psychological, moral, and social, 

a means of moral education, 
and an influence modifying 
heredity, 23-46 
a nascent instinct, 5 
in therapeutics, 9-11 
when irresistible, 14, 25 
psycho-motor, 14 
muscular, 21 
auto-, 23, 24 

effect upon the intellect, 29 
Sully, 296 

Swedish gymnastics, 143 

Tasks, children's, 29, 139 
Technical instruction, 247 
Temper in children, 41 
Tobacco, abuse of, cured, 7 
Tolstoi, 188, 259, 229 
Tuke, Dr. Hack, 2 
Tyndall, 152, 168 
Types, objectivation of, 39 
normal, 75 

Universities, German, 252 
French, 253 

Vice, 32 
Voisin, 10 
Volition, defined, 61 
Voltaire, 166 

Walks, 128 

Will, to be trained, not broken, 34 
creation of, 17 
Words, piower of, 17 
are inceptive actions, 19 
Writer's cramp, 138 
Wundt, 97 

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